Rutherford Institute President Offers Advice Ahead of Planned KKK Rally

Posted: Updated: Jun 22, 2017 04:21 PM

In preparation for the Ku Klux Klan rally planned for July, an Albemarle County civil liberties nonprofit is giving advice to the Charlottesville and Albemarle County police departments.

The Loyal White Knights of the KKK are planning to rally at the steps of Charlottesville Circuit Court on Saturday, July 8. The North Carolina-based group is protesting the decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and rename Lee Park to Emancipation Park.

Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead wrote an open letter to both police departments advising them to de-escalate the situation so that nothing gets out of hand.

Whitehead cites recent expressions of force by the Charlottesville Police Department as evidence that officers need to deploy more peaceful tactics instead of overly military equipment.

For example, Whitehead says police overused force in the recent SWAT incident in Charlottesville where a flash-bang set a sofa on fire.

“Tamper it down. There's so much tension today over those Confederate monuments and people are fighting and this and that, and what I'm trying to say - I've offered my help to the police department, like I have to police departments around the county -  is let's tamp down the tensions and let's be peace officers,” Whitehead said.

In the letter, he offered advice to the police departments in handling the KKK rally based on his experience advising other departments around the country.

“There was one town that was having a protest and they were nervous about it. I told the police officers and the chief, go up to the protestors and say, ‘We like your first amendment activity and we're supporting it, just be peaceful.’ The tensions just dropped,” explained Whitehead.

Whitehead says he is willing to sit down with the Charlottesville and Albemarle County police departments to give them some of his ideas.

Whitehead said he sent a copy of the letter to the Charlottesville and Albemarle County police departments and is still waiting for a response. The departments have not responded to requests for comment.

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