KKK protests in favor of 'Barnes' flag - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

KKK protests in favor of 'Barnes' flag

J. J. Harper J. J. Harper

March 2, 2004

Cordele- J. J. Harper says he's on a mission. He's an imperial wizard of the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Incorporated, and while he set up a tent in front of the Cordele Courthouse promoting his organization and hoping to recruit members, Harper says his main concern is political.

"It shows the people that we need to start standing up against what's going on in this world that's wrong," he says.

"The '56 flag with the confederate battle cross is history, it is our heritage, it is a beautiful flag. These two flags down here that Roy Barnes and Sonny Perdue came out with are ugly flags. We don't want them, take them away."

But, since voters weren't given the 1956 flag as an option Harper's urging them to vote for the blue flag introduced by Roy Barnes.

"All heritage groups are supporting the Barnes flag right now. The vote today doesn't really matter anyway it's a non-binding referendum. The representatives already said they're going to keep the Sonny Perdue flag, so it really doesn't matter what they vote for, but the number of votes for the blue flag will show Sonny Perdue that we wont stand for lies."

Harper says he's angry that the governor didn't fight to bring back the Georgia flag that bears the confederate battle emblem.

Harper isn't the only one trying to send a message to the community. Just across the street a number of Cordele citizens have gathered in opposition to what they call Harper's message of hatred.

"What he's promoting is not for the babies or for the flag. He's promoting hatred. This is supposed to be a city, or even a community that supports unity," exclaims Ray Johnson.

Johnson and others say though they don't agree with his beliefs they aren't angry Harper. They're angry at city officials who granted the KKK a permit to set up in front of the courthouse and perpetuate racist ideals.

"I'm not angry at him. I don't think none of us are. I think we're more upset with our elected officials who told us that it wouldn't be here, and today in 2004 it's here just a few days after Black History Month. I'm about to say I'm ashamed to say I live here," adds Royce Reeves.

Johnson and others say if Harper's message is political, he shouldn't use his affiliation with white supremacist groups to spread it to the masses.

Posted at 5:50 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com