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]