The request was made on June 23, Gaines said, just one day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) announced that she would call on state lawmakers to take up the issue of removing the flag after a racially motivated attack on a black church that left nine people dead. The Klan group said it expects about 200 people to attend.
James Spears, the Great Titan of the Loyal White Knights, told South Carolina station WHNS that he expects the pro-flag rally to be peaceful.
“It should be a peaceful rally,” Spears said. “We usually have pretty peaceful rallies. I mean, to me, it should be a peaceful rally. Like I said, it’s for the Confederate flag.”
Spears noted that the group’s “Grand Dragon” lives just 20 miles from the statehouse.
“That’s where we’ll be holding a cross lighting at the end of the night,” he added.
The group’s Web site prominently displays several versions of the Confederate flag and calls on followers to oppose an attempt at “cultural genocide.”
“If you can’t tell they are trying to wipe us out of the history book,” it says.
According to the Web site, the Loyal White Knights seek to unite “white Christian Americans” against Jewish people and mixing with “darker races.”
The South Carolina legislature is set to reconvene on July 6, when it is expected to take up legislation that would remove the Confederate flag from its place directly in front of the statehouse building, near a monument to the Confederacy.
Over the weekend, however, an activist, Bree Newsome, climbed the 30-foot flag pole and cut the flag down. She was arrested, and the flag was replaced shortly thereafter. Hours later, dozens also held a pro-flag rally outside the statehouse.
A rally hosted by an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group is probably not the kind of support flag proponents are looking for. If anything, it will only make it more difficult for lawmakers to support keeping it flying.
According to ABC News 4, Haley greeted news of the rally coldly: “This is our state, and they are not welcome,” she said.
[This post has been updated.]