A local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan is turning to an unlikely ally in its quest to adopt a Georgia highway, attempting to enlist the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Is their message often offensive and obnoxious? Yes. Is that a reason for the government to limit their rights of participation? No,” Debbie Seagraves, executive director for the ACLU of Georgia, told The Los Angeles Times.
Seagraves has said that the ACLU of Georgia will look into the case before it decides to whether to get involved.
The Keystone Knights original request to adopt the highway was rejected June 12 by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which said granting the permit would “negatively impact the quality of life” in Georgia.
“Maintaining the safety of our roadways is this Department’s foremost mission,” a statement released by GDOT said. “Encountering signage and members of the KKK along a roadway would create a definite distraction to motorists.
“Further, promoting an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the Department,” it continued.
The decision has upset KKK members, who said they did not make the request to make a political statement.
“We just want to clean up the doggone road,” Harley Hanson, exalted Cyclops of the Realm of Georgia, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We’re not going to be out there in robes.”
Another point of contention for the request is the speed limit on the requested stretch of highway. The speed limit on Georgia State Route 515 exceeds 55 mph, making it ineligible for adoption.
However, in such cases, the state transportation department is supposed to find an alternative stretch of highway, Seagraves told CNN.
A 2005 case in Missouri resulted in a KKK chapter being allowed to adopt a highway.