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Yesterday, word got out that a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan wanted to "adopt" a stretch of highway in far northern Georgia, along the North Carolina border.  Well, earlier today, an official with the state Department of Transportation told CNN that the application will be denied.

The state official did not want to be named because the official was not authorized to speak on the record.

The Klan chapter wanted to clean a stretch of highway in Union County, Georgia, according to paperwork obtained by CNN on Monday.

The application, which sought state approval for cleaning up a one-mile portion of a Georgia State Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains, was filed by the International Keystone Knights of the KKK on May 21.

As laudable as this may be on paper, the Georgia DOT may have just opened a legal can of worms.  It may not have a defensible reason to reject the request.  Back in 1994, the Missouri DOT turned down a request by a KKK chapter to adopt a stretch of I-55 south of St. Louis.  A federal appeals court sided with the KKK, saying that a group's viewpoint was not a valid reason to keep a group out of the program--a decision that SCOTUS refused to review.  However, when the Klansmen failed to actually clean the highway, they got the boot.  And in a final bit of irony, that highway is now named after Rosa Parks.

The DOT was in talks with the state attorney general's office yesterday, so it'll be interesting to hear the rationale behind the rejection.  But unless the DOT's got a really good explanation, this black North Carolinian may find himself in the odd position of siding with the Klan.  After all, unless the DOT has some pretty solid ground, this could open the door for gay groups and others who aren't as unsavory as the KKK to get turned down.

2:42 PM PT: VClib mentions a possible out for the Georgia DOT--if the KKK is on an official list of terrorist organizations, the state might be able to prevail in the inevitable legal battle.

3:27 PM PT: The Georgia DOT has issued its formal rejection, per patchmo13 in the comments.  It says that seeing KKK signage, as well as Klansmen along the highway, could potentially distract motorists.  It also argues that letting an organization with "a history of inciting civil disturbance and civil unrest" wouldn't be in the DOT's best interest.

3:30 PM PT: Per the Journal-Constitution's writeup on this, Governor Nathan Deal leaned pretty heavily on the DOT to turn the application down.  Not surprising, since he's from North Georgia.

Originally posted to Southern Action on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 01:43 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kos Georgia.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

    Is this a rule that has to be enforced in a content neutral way?

    I would say yes -

    The KKK is probably in the right here -although I would guess that it's more a of a publicity stunt on their part

    I wonder if Georgia has refused other groups in the past.

    Power-Worshipping Fascist

    by campionrules on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 01:55:25 PM PDT

    •  Here's the criteria (3+ / 0-)

      From the Georgia DOT:

      Any civic-minded organization, business, individual, family, city, county, state, or federal agency is welcome to volunteer in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway program. Each volunteer group must have at least six members, with three backup members. All members’ names, addresses and phone numbers will be provided to GDOT prior to acceptance of the application.
      I think one could dispute that the KKK is "civic minded" since it exists to support discrimination against a specific group of Georgia citizens the way an LGBT group for example, does not.  Depends on how much latitude the state has to define "civic".

      I don't see a huge 1st ammendment issue with telling them no.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 03:43:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's one way to find the bright side (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devis1, glorificus, greengemini
    After all, unless the DOT has some pretty solid ground, this could open the door for gay groups and others who aren't as unsavory as the KKK to get turned down.
    Although I still don't buy this application as legitimate, guess we'll see what the courts decide and if Georgia lets them in or drops the program. Seems like a conflict with the whole 'civic-minded organization' premise, though.
    On its website, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK says it is "fed up with the Federal tyranny and oppression of Reconstruction, and the time was ripe for Clandestine Armed Resistance."

    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

    by tytalus on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 01:59:05 PM PDT

  •  They are a terrorist domestic organization (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cv lurking gf, Sandy on Signal

    Why on earth do we have to cooperate with terrorists?

    The unfortunate downside to this is that the DOT will have to choose between allowing the KKK to participate or to eliminate the entire program. And that program saves the State of Georgia millions of dollars.

    •  You have to remember Gideon and Miranda (0+ / 0-)

      weren't exactly the most savory people.  Sometimes, you have to get behind lowlifes in order to protect everyone's rights.

      Like I said, it'll be very interesting to see the legal rationale behind this.

    •  1918 is the KKK currently on any official (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christian Dem in NC, TexDem

      list of terrorist organizations? If they are, that creates a legal basis for denying the application. Absent that, I don't know how they deny it.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 02:31:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmm, didn't think of that angle, VClib (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, tytalus

        That might be the DOT's only out.

        •  Which KKK? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, greengemini

          That is another problem. The original case involved the Missouri chapter of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The Georgia group is the International Keystone Knights of the KKK. The largest, best known, and most violent Klan for many years was United Klans of America, Inc.

          Of course, all Klans are "the same" in their bigotry and murderous ways. But they are not all legally the same group. They fight over who is the "real" Klan. Some former UKA members formed a new outfit called the True Ku Klux Klan when the original group was bankrupted by a civil judgement for the lynching of Mobile teenager Michael Donald.

          So even if there is a terrorist designation, it probably doesn't apply to every Klan outfit.

          Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

          by susanala on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 03:17:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Al Qaeda has all kinds of factions as well (0+ / 0-)

            that doesn't stop the US from bombing the shit out of all of them, plus a few that are just designated by the US as "Al Qaeda in wherever". Just designate any group that uses the letters KKK or any of the words Ku, Klux or Klan in the name as a terrorist organization. If they don't want to be designated as a terrorist organization they can pick a different name.

            Crossroads PAC: The place where you sell your soul to the devil.

            by Calouste on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 03:31:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt it. (0+ / 0-)

        But why not given their history?

        At the end of the day, the KKK will get their road sign. Then again, they actually have to do the work. So if they were assigned the piece of road with the narrowest shoulders, maybe a few of them will end up as road kill.

      •  i don't know where to look for terrorist orgs list (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandy on Signal, greengemini

        but they are on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups.

        SPLC KKK page

        Here is the letter from Georgia DOT explaining their decision.  Looks like that section isn't adoptable regardless.

        They've suspended new applications as of June 4, 2012 to review and update the terms and conditions of the program.

        I will believe corportions are people when Texas executes one.

        by patchmo13 on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 03:18:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What about the Southern Poverty Law (0+ / 0-)

        Center? I'm sure they have the KKK on a list, and it's not the list of good boys and girls.

  •  Why does an anti-government . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devis1

    . . . club of clods want official approval to do something good? Leave aside the whole metaphysical problem of whether anything done by something so patently and completely evil might or might not be good.

    Let 'em clean the highway all they want. Days, nights and weekends. Hourly. And if they want a sign to brag about their civic contribution, let them buy their own. Do it your damn self. That's the 'murricn way, don'cha know? Don' need no stinkin' gummint tellin' us what to do!!!

    The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

    by semiAdult on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 02:18:57 PM PDT

  •  At some point in it's life... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glorificus

    the highway should probably be told that it is adopted. Imagine the  trauma of finding out you've been adopted by the Klan. The state of Georgia is just looking out for the best interests of the highway. :^)

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 03:31:01 PM PDT

  •  I was in Atlanta yesterday and heard this story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glorificus, greengemini

    It was my very first time in the south.  Ever.  I heard on Georgia Public Radio that any civic organization is eligible to adopt a highway provided that it works for the public good, or some language of that sort.  Seems that the state could determine that the KKK is not a civic organization working for the common good, as their mission is contrary to the public good of a big percentage of Georgia's population.  

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 03:39:06 PM PDT

  •  IIRC (0+ / 0-)

    the last time a KKK organization "adopted" a highway section, it quickly became the most littered section of that states highway system.

    "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat."--Will Rogers

    by vgranucci on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 03:40:13 PM PDT

  •  The KKK firebombed my UU church (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, tytalus

    in the 60's as well as black churches and a synagogue in Chattanooga.  We have a long history of their violence in our town.  No way would I travel on their part of the interstate if they were allowed a section to keep clean.  The KKK wants to harm us, this shouldn't be allowed.  

    Do not underestimate Right Wing Violence.  Just because the news is underreporting it, doesn't mean it isn't taking place.

  •  The ACLU will probably win this for the KKK just (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JGibson

    like they won in Missouri in 1999:

    http://www.rawstory.com/...

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