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VOL. 128 | NO. 71 | Thursday, April 11, 2013

City, County Bill for Klan Rally: $175,585

By Bill Dries

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The cost to the city of Memphis and Shelby County governments for the massive response to a March 30 Ku Klux Klan rally at the Shelby County Courthouse was $175,585.

The city of Memphis released the expense report on the security precautions Tuesday, April 9, for the effort that sealed off 13 Downtown blocks to vehicles and all foot traffic.

Approximately 400 law enforcement officers including Memphis Police officers and Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies plus officers from other police departments in the area and the Memphis Fire Department were used in the effort.

The rally by 61 Klan members along with members of the National Socialist Movement drew a group of onlookers and counter protestors totaling 1,200 people, according to Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

All but $23,555 of the expense was the personnel cost. The $110,870 for the Memphis Police presence was the biggest single line item followed by $35,673 for Sheriff’s deputies and $5,487 for Memphis firefighters.

The chain link fences and toilets and others similar items totaled $14,705. Other personnel including private security guards manning the checkpoint at the counter protest entry area and Memphis Area Transit Authority buses used to bus in the Klan members cost $8,850.

The fences were used to keep two city blocks between the counter protestors and the Klan with police on horseback and several rows of sheriff’s deputies in riot gear between the two fenced-off areas.

One person was arrested over a four-hour period, which included the one hour the Klan rally took.

The city originally planned to bill the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for the cost of the preparations. But that was changed on the advice of city attorneys who said the city ordinance giving the police director the discretion to do that could be challenged on the grounds it was passed after the Klan group had applied for the demonstration permit.

“Peace is priceless,” Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said in a prepared statement.

The preparations were planned 15 years after another Klan faction rallied on the steps of the courthouse and a few counter demonstrators jumped a police barrier prompting police to use pepper gas and nightsticks to clear the area.

Windows were shattered at the 100 N. Main building and several other buildings as those in the crowd of counter demonstrators and onlookers dispersed.

Armstrong said the overwhelming police presence last month “helped create a show of force that sends a strong message – we will do what’s necessary to maintain order and keep the peace in Memphis.”

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