KKK rally in Jonesborough called off

May 14, 2004 By JAMES BROOKS

JONESBOROUGH - The Ku Klux Klan rally originally set for Jonesborough on Saturday is off. Ricky Dean, who gave an Afton post office box as an address, surrendered his permit to hold a private KKK rally in Mill Spring Park after meeting with Jonesborough Public Safety Director Craig Ford on Thursday.

In a statement by Town Attorney Jim Wheeler and Town Administrator Bob Browning, Wheeler said Dean was asked if the Klan had distributed fliers advertising the rally. When Dean admitted fliers were sent out, he was told the event would now have to go through the public event process. "They will not be coming to Jonesborough this weekend," Wheeler said.

Browning said the town has been trying to get in touch with Dean for about 10 days to discuss rules for holding a private event, including no fires in the park, trash pickup and other issues. "We were working for Chief Ford to get clarifications on their intentions," Browning said. "We sent out officers looking for fliers advertising the event, and they admitted it was their intent to have outside people come to the rally."

In order to reapply as a public event, the Klan would have to give adequate time for town staff to review what town resources would be required. The Klan would also have to provide proof of liability insurance and sign a hold-harmless agreement with the town. The application would then have to be reviewed and voted upon by the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Wheeler said that after the board reviewed the objective requirements of a public event, it could then review some subjective requirements. "They could not prohibit an event based on the purpose behind the organization, and that's the big issue," Wheeler said.

He said Dean indicated that not more than 20 people were estimated to attend the rally, had it been approved.

Dean arrived a few minutes late for the meeting, wearing a Confederate battle flag belt buckle and initially tried to hold his cap in front of his face when met by two cameramen and two reporters. "I'm not supposed to hold no interviews," Dean said. "I could get in trouble for that." The meeting with Ford lasted about 45 minutes. Browning said.

Dean clarified that his group, which police said involves people from Greene and Cocke counties, is not related to the Washington County Klan group that held an initiation at Limestone in November in which one person was shot.

"Craig Ford has done a tremendous job of preparing for this meeting," Browning said. "Based on what has happened, we will make changes in our application procedure for a private event, including requirement of a street address and a telephone number."

Browning said Ford communicated well with outside law enforcement in lining up extra sheriff's deputies and state troopers if needed. "If this does happen in the future, the resources will be there to ensure there won't be a problem," Browning said.

Marion McKinney, who filed a writ of mandamus seeking to have the town declare the rally a public event, declined comment. "It's over and I'm glad," she said. "What we wanted to do was done, and we did it the way you are supposed to - in the courts and not in the media."

Copyright 2004 Kingsport Times-News