A KKK anti-immigration protest in North Carolina was drowned out by several hundred counterprotesters, sending a message that the group's recent foray into the immigration reform battle may not be going as planned.
Between 400 and 500 community members and immigration reform advocates organized a counterprotest across the street from the approximately 100 KKK members in Troy, North Carolina, on Saturday, as reported by the Asheboro Courier-Tribune. The KKK had expected 200 of its members to show up, according to its protest permit.
The counterprotesters told local news outlets that they wanted to send the message that the KKK's extremist rhetoric is not welcome. The protest, originally planned as a rally for the Klansmen to publicize their new "shoot-to-kill" border security policy, became a shouting match between the Klansmen and the counterprotesters.
"Don't come back to Troy, boy!" community members shouted.
"Young people today will not stand for this. When I was a little boy, the KKK coming to town would have put fear in my heart, but not anymore," local resident Donald Loften told the Courier-Tribune. "This country has come so far since those days. Where I work, we all work together every day. It’s a shame and disgrace for society that this hatred can go on, but I guess there will always be that 10 percent who want to hate somebody. They want to stir up trouble, but they are dealing with a different mentality now. People have no fear of them."
“I have always wanted to talk trash to a grand dragon. It felt good,” said community member Jack Cagle.
The protest is part of the hate group's recent efforts to include anti-immigration positions in its mission. Though the group has long advocated for white supremacy and racial intolerance, experts say that the group wants to capitalize on the recent border crisis. Saturday's protest was one of several events set to be held this summer.
The group appears to be losing support, even in its Southern strongholds. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the number of KKK members nationwide has declined to about 6,000. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, it had nearly 60,000.
While the group hopes that shifting its mission to anti-immigrant activism might bring in new members, it is also resorting to more desperate measures: In South Carolina, Klansmen are handing out candy to attract new recruits.