The KKK disrupted an Alabama Pride march
Participants in a Pride march were stunned over the weekend, when members of the Ku Klux Klan turned up to try and disrupt it.
Two hundred people turned up to take part in a rally in Florence, Alabama, organised by the LGBT group Equality Shoals.
However, the event, thought to be the first of its kind in Northwest Alabama, was marred when protesters turned up in Ku Klux Klan robes.
The handful of KKK protesters, who were joined by members of other neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups, waved racist insignias and chanted homophobic slogans.
According to the local newspaper, one Klan member pronounced homosexuality an “abomination to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Officers from Florence Police Department attended to ensure there was no violence, but their stance angered some members of the LGBT community.
In a Facebook post, the police department posted a picture of the LGBT rights activists and KKK, writing: “Two sides, opposing views. Peaceful rally. Our duty and honor to provide security and ensure the safety of both groups.”
Another post from the police department included the hashtag #defendersoftheconfedoratecross.
Will Cross, a member of the Equality Shoals board of directors, branded the police statements “odd”.
He told AL.com: “That’s very odd because that group to me is based on hatred and is like a terrorist group to me.
“I don’t think there should be an equivalence there because we paid and got permits and hired police officers, and they just kind of showed up trying to scare people.”
However, Equality Shoals is focusing on the positive – and were pleased to see more than 200 people turn out to support equality, even with the KKK protest.
Mr Cross added: “Honestly, I’m really impressed that as many people showed up as did, especially in our small town where it’s typically really conservative.
“I was also really impressed that there were tons of families and small children there with signs saying things like ‘I support my gay child’.
“We just wanted to have a sister march to the national marches happening all across the nation.”
Benjamin Newbern, executive director of Equality Shoals, added: “This was a huge day for the LGBTQ community with the fact that nothing like this had happened before with members of the LGBTQ community marching in the streets here.
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“Hate has always been here but it reared its ugly head yesterday to show that it’s still around.
Florence Police Department said in a statement: “The police department is at Wilson Park today providing security for the Equality March 2017.
“Although there are some in attendance who may disagree with some of the views of this group, the Constitution is clear [about free speech].
“With this in mind, the Florence Police Department will ensure every group is permitted to lawfully assemble and permitted to speak and voice their concerns and views.
“We will gladly protect them and their right to do so. We will also prevent another group from disrupting, intimidating, or interfering with this right.
“It is our duty and honor to uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of all citizens. What an amazing document the Constitution is and what a country we are so privileged to serve.”