STONE MOUNTAIN, GA. - The Stone Mountain Memorial Association has denied an application from the KKK to burn a cross on top of the mountain.
The association said the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had applied for a permit to burn a cross on Oct. 21, 2017. That request was denied on Tuesday.
The association said its “ordinances allow for the denial of a public assembly permit if the result of granting such a permit would create the material disruption of Park activities or it reasonably appears to represent a clear and present danger to public health or safety.”
The association, which is charged with managing the state-owned park. said it believed both conditions would exist if the KKK’s permit were granted.
The association's permitting process has been in place for only a few years, according to association spokesperson John Bankhead. This is the first time a permit has been denied since the system has been in place.
Bankhead said the permit may have been granted if the KKK had not wanted to burn a cross. He also said the association sought legal counsel before denying the permit.
"We don't want them here," Bankhead said. "But we do understand their right to free speech."
Petitioner Joey Hobbs said the KKK was not happy with the decision, but "in light of what happened over the weekend, I understand them not wanting violence. That's not something we want, either."
On April 23, 2016, nine people were arrested while two protesting groups held demonstrations at the park.
Stone Mountain was the site of a number of KKK cross burnings in the 19th and 20th centuries.
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