KKK Applies To Adopt Stretch Of Georgia Highway

When you see a stretch of road that has been “adopted” by a group or business that helps to remove litter from the highway in return for recognition from the state, the sponsor is often some civic group, union or social club. Occasionally, you get something like the stretch of I-95 near the Pennsylvania/Delaware border sponsored by a gentlemen’s club. But legislators in Georgia now find themselves in a bit of a pickle, having to pick between allowing the Ku Klux Klan to adopt a highway or facing a potentially lengthy and pricey legal battle.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the KKK recently applied to adopt a stretch of road in northern Georgia near the North Carolina border. The paper reports that the group is scheduled to meet today with lawyer’s from the Georgia attorney general’s office.

Some people are already urging the state to deny the petition.

“This is about membership building and rebranding their name in a public way,” one state congressman tells the AJC. “If the state approves [their application] then they are complicit… What’s next, are we going to let Neo-Nazis or the Taliban or al-Qaida adopt highways?”

But the KKK member who filed the petition tells the paper, “We just want to clean up the doggone road… We’re not going to be out there in robes.”

If the state denies the application, the KKK has said it would pursue legal action and ask the American Civil Liberties Union to be involved. The ACLU assisted in a similar dispute between the KKK and the state of Missouri. In that case, the court ruled in favor of the Klan, saying that denial of the application would be a violation of the KKK’s First Amendment rights.

The only other option readily available to the state would be to cease the adopt-a-highway program in its entirety. As of last year, 173 active organizations were involved in the program that covers approximately 200 miles of highway in the state.

KKK group seeks Adopt-A-Highway OK [AJC.com]

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  1. Quirk Sugarplum says:

    Simple solution. They can sponsor, but they have to cover up their sponsorship sign with a white sheet.

  2. bhr says:

    Let them adopt it. Let them clean it (I’m sure there are standards they have to meet to get the road). Then, put the sign on order and never have it show up. Or have it disappear.

    • Jawaka says:

      Meh, let them have their sign. As long as they’re doing their job in keeping the roads clean then I don’t see a problem. Allowing them to adopt a road doesn’t mean that you agree with or support their beliefs.

  3. HomerSimpson says:

    Just as long as they’re not burning cros…um…grass along the side of the road.

  4. Storie says:

    The article doesn’t say what happened in Missouri after the court case. Immediately after the state lost the lawsuit and had to put up the signs, the state legislature passed a law naming the stretch of highway the Martin Luther King Jr highway.

    The KKK refused to clean it and were eliminated from the program for non-compliance.

    • FatLynn says:

      Oh, this brings a smile to my face. Well-played!

      • Storie says:

        Correction, it was Rosa Parks. But the story still applies.

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          Damn, you beat me to it, but here’s what Wikipedia says about the Missouri case:

          The Adopt-A-Highway program allows any organization to participate, which became a point of controversy when the Ku Klux Klan adopted a portion of Interstate 55 just south of St. Louis, Missouri. While legally the program had to uphold the groups’ rights to participate, the public outcry and repeated destruction of their sign was a cause of concern. In November 2000, the section of highway was designated as the Rosa Parks Freeway, named after the famed civil-rights heroine.

          KKK sponsorship was later dropped from the program for its inability to fulfill its obligations, and the Missouri Department of Transportation adopted specific criteria to prohibit hate groups from future participation. However, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that any attempt to bar the Klan from participation in the Adopt-a-Highway program on the basis of the group’s purpose is a violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, so the ruling stood.

    • RandomLetters says:

      Well played Missouri.

    • kenj0418 says:

      I used to leave a few miles from there. It was actually Rosa Parks it was named after. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_55_in_Missouri

      Also, the sponsorship signs usually stayed up for less than a day or two before someone would come by at night and steal it.

      The KKK ended up losing their sponsorship after they didn’t pick up trash for a while. (I’m willing to bet they were pelted with trash when they did.)

  5. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    This has been going on for many years. The last time it made it to the Supreme Court, the lower court had ruled in favor of the hate group, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, letting the lower court ruling stand.

    One solution states have used instead of barring the hate group from sponsoring a road is to prominently name the sponsored road after a historical minority figure from that area, probably in the hopes that the hate group would give up its sponsorship.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adopt_a_Highway#Controversies

  6. Doubting thomas says:

    So because you don’t like their opinions (neither do I), you don’t want free labor from them? How does that make sense

    • FatLynn says:

      The problem is that the group is attempting to brand itself as a community organization, not a hate group.

      • bonzombiekitty says:

        While I think most of us here will agree that the KKK has abhorrent views, one person’s hate group is another person’s community supporter.

        Provided this KKK group has not done anything illegal, then I don’t see how the gov’t can stop them from adopting the highway.

      • wade says:

        I was unaware that truth-in-advertising laws applied to hate groups.

      • MarkFL says:

        This is only one of several problems. If you happen to be African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or a member of some other ethnic group that might be recognized visibly, would you be eager to drive along a stretch of highway knowing that there might be Klansmen patrolling the next mile? I wouldn’t.

        Also, putting the name of a group on a sign implies a sort of approval that isn’t necessarily present. And I think someone else has mentioned the likelihood of the sign being stolen or vandalized. Perhaps the organizations could be required to pay for the maintenance of the signs, too.

        I’m not surprised that the Klan lost sponsorship in Missouri because they didn’t meet the obligations — not because it’s the Klan, but I don’t notice ANY sponsored stretches of highway being any more litter-free than other stretches.

    • redskull says:

      Perhaps the state wants to avoid the inevitable fistfights/shootouts that will no doubt occur.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    Let the KKK adopt that stretch of highway but rename
    that stretch Rosa Parks Highway right after the ink is dry.

  8. bluline says:

    The law is on the side of the KKK in this case. Once government encourages organizations to participate in highway clean-up efforts and such, it can’t discriminate against the organizations that volunteer to do so. The government isn’t allowed to practice viewpoint discrimination.

  9. CrazyEyed says:

    I’m sure the Black Panther’s would receive the same outrage

  10. Daggertrout says:

    Now what if NAMBLA wanted to adopt a stretch of highway that ran past an elementary school?

    • RAEdwards says:

      As long as there weren’t registered sex offenders that had to keep X distance from a school cleaning the road, then by statute, they have a right to the sponsorship and responsibility to do the cleaning.

    • Cat says:

      I see no problem with the North American Man-Bot Love Association adopting a highway near an elementary school.

    • RiverStyX says:

      As a member of the North American Marlon Brando Lookalikes foundation, I simply do not understand this ‘dilemma’ you speak of?

      • Auron says:

        But does your group along with the FBI chase the members of that other NAMBLA through hotel rooms in the Scooby-Doo/Benny Hill fashion?

    • frank64 says:

      Worse(for this site) what about Fox News?

    • bluline says:

      Legally speaking, NAMBLA, as an organization, has the same rights as any other organization. We may not like what its members stand for, but the organization itself is not illegal (and it’s not illegal to express the viewpoints its members hold). The government may not discriminate against it based solely on the point of view of its members.

    • bhr says:

      The police would LOVE if members of a group with a crime based charter (NAMBLA, Meth Dealers, ect) signed up for something like this. They would stand back and take plate numbers for every member.

  11. etz says:

    wow, GA has 200 whole miles as part of the program? The should get rid of the the whole silly program…. Get rid of it, save some money on signs and legal battles. It’s not like the sponsored sections of road are ever any cleaner than the non-sponsored sections anyway.

    Besides, IIRC the groups don’t do any cleanup at all. They just pay some money and get a small sign/billboard while their money goes towards the cleanup budget

    • FatLynn says:

      Hm, I have done it in Illinois, and believe me, we walked around picking up trash.

    • Craige says:

      “It’s not like the sponsored sections of road are ever any cleaner than the non-sponsored sections anyway.”

      No matter how you look at it, the sponsored section of the road is cleaner than that same section when not sponsored. If somebody goes by and picks up trash, that section of the road is inevitably cleaner.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Or they could tell cops to look the other way for littering on this stretch of the highway, and spread the word to the public. It would become so littered with trash that the KKK could not keep it up, and they could take the stretch away from them.

      I think they should just let them clean it and be done with it, but they could sabotage them if they really wanted to.

  12. Malik says:

    Wasn’t this part of one of those “Internet Stories”.

    It turns out that they allowed the KKK to adopt the road, but they renamed the road the “Rosa Parks Memorial Highway”

    Sounds like a plan

  13. RiverStyX says:

    They’ve done this before, it didn’t pan out because they never showed up to clean it. As far as I remember, nobody took offense to it – I didn’t either. I mean, we don’t care when our convicted felons clean up trash, what’s the difference when a group of mostly-convicted felons from the KKK want to do the same? If they want to throw away my old beer bottles and condom wrappers then more (white) power to them ;)

    But the reality is not so simple..Usually when groups like the KKK get themselves involved with stuff like this, they only do it for the attention. And in their opinion, any publicity is good publicity. That’s just how it works in their circle.

    From,

    Somebody who’s unfortunately been ‘down that road’ before.

  14. Kavatar says:

    If they really “just want to clean up the doggone road”, then they should be willing to agree to not have a sign with their name posted on the roadside.

    • MarkFL says:

      While I agree with this, there are probably safety laws preventing this on busy highways if you’re not part of the cleanup program. And if there aren’t, there should be.

  15. chefboyardee says:

    fyi “editor’s”, there’s no apostrophe in “lawyers”

  16. keith4298 says:

    Convictions are always easy to live up to right until that moment someone tests them.

    If democracy and freedom of speech say that you must allow speech that makes your blood boil – well, here’s where you get a teachable moment for the kids.

  17. haggis for the soul says:

    Yeah they did that here in Missouri too. As one of my co-workers said, “Let ‘em do it, and then throw all of your trash out the window on that stretch of road.”

  18. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    AAGH! MY UNCOMPROMISING LOVE FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT IS CLASHING WITH MY UTTER DISDAIN AND CONDEMNATION OF BIGOTRY!

    I DON’T KNOW WHO TO FLAME!

    GAAAAHHHHHHSJKLPDWHEFIHKNDJHUCNnlkmknlvnnffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

  19. sirwired says:

    The antidote to speech you don’t like is more speech; not agonizing over ways to silence the people you don’t agree with.

  20. evilpete says:

    Will they be picking up trash in there white robes?

  21. H3ion says:

    Will they only be picking up white trash?

  22. aleck says:

    I may not agree with KKK agenda, but they are a legitimate organization and have rights to participate just like any others.

  23. wade says:

    Why is this even an issue? You may hate what they stand for, but as long as they’re not a criminal organization, why shouldn’t they be allowed to adopt-a-highway?

  24. El_Fez says:

    While I find their beliefs abhorrent (like any civilized person should), I say let them clean the road. Free speech needs to be equally applied to everyone, even the assholes of the world.

    That and we might as well get something good out of the group for once.

  25. daynight says:

    One thing many people still need to learn is that when someone does or believes something that you feel is wrong / bad, that does not revoke their right to exist. That extends to not letting your opinion swing in the wind by irrelevant issues. The purpose of the KKK is not to clean roads. That is just something to do as, yes, an image cleaning action. No one should be taken in by this that their other agenda has suddenly disappeared or become benign. Refusing to serve these people in restaurants or sell them things in stores will anger them and make them feel persecuted. Yet they won’t associate their persecution with the wrongness of their views. They will simply become more militant. Vigilantism is not acceptable from them or their opponents. Let them have their road to clean. But don’t buy it that they are wonderful human beings because they can think of ways to pretend they are decent, moral people. Bigotry and hate are not erased by a little cleaning.

  26. Kuri says:

    If they really just want to clean up a road, then it would be less costly for them to get some of their members together and go clean up a damn road.

  27. No Fat Chicks says:

    If the NAACP can do it, why not the KKK? They both are hate groups.

    • Nobby says:

      How so?

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Spoken like someone with absolutely no intellectual abilities. Either that or you know they aren’t a hate group and you are just a manipulative douche.

      NAACP exists to help a group that was socially and legally discriminated against before the USA even existed legally as its own country. The Jim Crow Laws continued in some places until 1965, and the big Civil Rights Act, which protects minority groups, was not put into law until 1964. Who knows how long it took before it was actually enforced. Even now, people find ways to “discriminate” legally, like continuing to search for job candidates just so you don’t have to hire a highly qualified black (or in your case a fat chick.) The NAACP existed long before Jim Crow Laws were abolished (1909), long before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was established, and long before desegregation of schools. Their purpose was to get rid of all of all of the problems that come with whites discriminating against blacks (and legally so at that time.) They still exist to fight discrimination b/c discrimination still exists. Their goal is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”. So, since they include all people and seek to end discrimination/hate, they aren’t a hate group. They are actually and anti-hate group.

  28. Crazydog says:

    “Did you know that the KKK adopted a highway,
    Just a few miles away from my mom’s house.
    They paid their money and they put up a sign,
    I guess they dress up in sheets and go pick up the trash.
    The trash, the trash, they pick up the trash,
    The trash, the trash, they pick up the trash.
    They should know it when they see it,
    They get a good look every day in the mirror.
    They get a good look every day in the mirror.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ier_VmkIdsQ

  29. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I say let them do it and then everybody drive on that stretch of road and throw out shitloads of trash. SHITLOADS.

    • Craige says:

      So to protest a hate group, you suggest going out of your way to expunge one of the few productive things they’ll do for society, and in doing so making conditions worse for anybody travelling down their section of road?

      Yeah…that makes sense….

  30. Sajanas says:

    Yeah, from a freedom of speech and assembly prospective, they should have every right to do so. However, I wouldn’t feel guilty at all littering the KKK highway. My only question would be… are they doing it themselves, or are they paying people to do it? Because if they’re doing it themselves, well, then by all means, let them out themselves to their friends, family and anyone driving by. But I would feel really bad if they were just funding some poor government people to have to clean up the KKK high way and get associated with that.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Although I suggested it as a possible solution if the state wanted to screw them over, littering is illegal and can come with pretty hefty fines. Being in the KKK isn’t. It’s a group whose speech is just protected as yours and mine. Littering is gross and it isn’t fun to look at. If people do litter and the KKK doesn’t clean up, who will clean it up? The state tax payers will have to hire it done. Then you litter on your own dime.

  31. TuxMan says:

    MLK supports the civil rights of the KKK; equality for all.

    The application should not be denied unless they fail to meet the same requirements as any other group.

    No matter what your personal feelings are, the KKK has the right to be treated equally.

  32. gman863 says:

    The white hoods should offer good SPF protection; however I think they’ll find wearing the robes way too hot in the summer.

    /s

  33. who? says:

    This is the whole problem with the whole adopt-a-highway thing. The “wrong kinds of people” are always the ones who sign up for it.

    I’d say, let them do it and deal with the consequences. Unless things have changed, if the sign gets vandalized or stolen, the state of GA will charge the group for a new sign. When it gets too expensive, the KKK will give up.

  34. gman863 says:

    Does this mean a rock group in Georgia will record a remake spoof of a Ramones’ song entitled The KKK Took my Litter Away?

    /still more sarcasam

  35. qwerty017 says:

    I can almost see what is going to happen. They are going to name that section of the road after Rosa Parks and everybody is going to laugh and say “That sure taught them”. Would I laugh as well? No. Why? Because I know that 99% of the people that think this way are just hypocrites. They wouldn’t laugh if someone came around and started naming all of the roads sponsored by Boy Scout troops after Gays and Atheists. They wouldn’t find it funny that Veterans groups had to clean up trash on roads renamed for famous anti-war activists. And would these same people get a chuckle when Christian groups suddenly had their roads renamed in remembrance of Muslim and Hindu martyrs or Gods? I doubt it. So if you wouldn’t find it funny for all of these other groups, especially the Boy Scout example since they also discriminate just like the KKK then why would you support the same thing happening to these people?

  36. Bionic Data Drop says:

    The only thing the modern KKK is guilty of is unpopular speech. While I wholeheartedly disagree with their viewpoints, the other end of this damn “freedom of speech” thing is unpopular speech is just as protected as popular speech.

    Let them adopt the highway. There’s no legitimate reason not to.

  37. amuro98 says:

    I don’t understand. What’s the problem here? Organizations can sign up for Adopt-A-Highway. The KKK is an organization. Maybe an organization that many don’t agree with, but then, that’s what America is all about.

    There’s a road near me that’s sponsored by Planned Parenthood and another that’s sponsored by a local pro-life group.

  38. Kestris says:

    You just want to clean up the ‘doggone road’? Well, get out there and do it then! No one’s stopping you, just wear the appropriate saftey gear and do it already.

    There’s no need to adopt a damn highway in order to do voluntary cleanup along it, for cryin’ out loud.

  39. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I am not a fan of racism and bigotry, but don’t have an issue with the KKK adopting a highway. If people want to clean it up for free, let them. Even if you don’t like their message, they still exist and are going to keep existing; why not let them do some good?

  40. baristabrawl says:

    I can see their point about being white and proud. I get it, everyone’s got a support group. Poor white guy. But you can’t be the KKK, white and proud. It will land you in trouble every time.