March 29, 2003
GREENEVILLE (WATE and AP) -- One hundred Tennessee State Troopers (THP) helped Greeneville police and Greene County sheriff's deputies keep the peace as the Ku Klux Klan held a public rally Saturday in Greeneville. Two sniper units kept watch on the event as well.
Also on hand were around 100 observers and anti-Klan protestors. Everyone gathered outside a local recreation center.
State police, who coordinated security for the rally, said the greater law enforcement presence than at pre-9/11 Klan rallies was necessary.
THP Lt. Dean Hurley said, "We've been at this for several years with the Klan rallies and there have been some situations where the police have had to intervene. We've stopped individuals from several different types of violence, fighting to verbal arguing and things like that."
Robert Johnson, a spokesman for the Erwin-based branch of America's Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told The Greeneville Sun the group is nonviolent and is "not looking for trouble."
Johnson said previously that the rally was to show the people of Greeneville "that we're not going to get run off."
But city officials weren't taking any chances. Rally attendees were checked and all weapons, signs with sticks and umbrellas were confiscated.
The state didn't pay any overtime to THP for working security at the rally. Troopers will be allowed to switch their regular days off instead.
6 News Reporter Tearsa Smith also contributed to this report.
(Portions of this report, copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)