The Secret Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) has long applied for a permit to burn a cross on top of the mountain. On Tuesday, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association has denied said the request by the KKK meant to burn a cross on October 21 this year.
The association sought to justify its decision as it said: “its ordinances allow for the denial of a public assembly permit if the result of granting such a permit would create the material disruption of the park activities or it reasonably appears to represent a clear and present danger to public health or safety.”
The Stone Mountain Memorial Association also said it believed both conditions given would be present should KKK’s permit be granted. The association is in charge of managing the state-owned park.
The association’s spokesperson John Bankhead admits that the association’s permitting process has only been in place for a few years and that the KKK’s request marks the first time that they are denying a permit.
Bankhead said the results may have turned differently had KKK not asked for a cross to be burned. He said the association asked for a legal advice before they came out with their decision to deny the request for a permit by the KKK.
Bankhead admitted, though, that “We don’t want them here. But we do understand their right to free speech.”
It was not cleared, however, if the decision and the timing of the decision’s release were affected by the violence that marred the white nationalists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend.
Petitioner for the KKK Joey Hobbs said they were unhappy with the denial of their request to symbolically burn a cross on October 21 at the Stone Mountain. He said that they understood the verdict of the association, “in light of what happened over the weekend, I understand them not wanting violence. That’s not something we want, either.”
Stone Mountain was also the site of numerous cross burnings in the 19th and 20th centuries.