The rally was peaceful, with no injuries or property damage and only one arrest for disorderly conduct, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said. The police presence was heavy in a closed-off section of downtown Memphis.
Klan members were bused to and from the protest and were relegated to a fenced-in section in front of the Shelby County courthouse. Some wore pointed white hoods and waved flags with the letters “KKK’ on them.
Police said an anti-Klan rally located in another fenced-in area about 100 yards away attracted 1,275 people throughout the day. Some chanted “KKK, go away.”
A North Carolina-based faction of the Klan came to protest after the City Council voted to rename Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Confederate Park. Forrest was a slave trader, Confederate cavalryman and member of the first version of the Klan.
Bystander Veronica Milton, 37, viewed the protest as an educational experience, though she described the Klan’s white supremacist message as sad.
“Everybody has different opinions, different voices,” said Milton, who is black. “There’s nothing wrong with seeing things from every side.”
A family-themed event organized to counter the rally at a separate location featured more than 1,500 people who ate from food trucks, listened to live music and attended a diversity workshop.