A Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan may soon be picking up litter along a stretch of highway in the northern portion of the state after it submitted an application to adopt part of the highway, sparking controversy across the Peach State.
The Ku Klux Klan chapter's secretary, April Chambers, said the organization filed the application in a stand against dirty highways.
All we want to do is adopt a highway, she told CNN. We're not doing it for publicity. We're doing it to keep the mountains beautiful. People throwing trash out on the side of the road ... that ain't right.
A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation acknowledged that the agency received the Ku Klux Klan's application but declined to comment on the status of the request.
The KKK chapter, the Union County Klan, submitted the application last month to adopt a one-mile stretch of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains along the Georgia-North Carolina border, according to the Associated Press.
The Georgia Department of Transportation and lawyers from the Georgia state attorney general's office were set to meet today on the status of the application.
The Union County Klan, the north Georgia Ku Klux Klan chapter that submitted the application, told Reuters it would seek legal action if the state does not allow the group to adopt the one-mile stretch of highway.
We're not going to be undeterred, said Harley Hanson, who holds the title of Exalted Cyclops of the group.
The Ku Klux Klan chapter's plan has been criticized by government leaders, including Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a black legislator who represents Atlanta.
Brooks told Reuters that Georgia's Adopt-A-Highway program should be reserved for civic-minded groups, and that the Klan does not fit that description.
My God, when you say that the Ku Klux Klan is now being considered in that category, it stretches the imagination, the lawmaker said.
As part of the 20-year program, Georgia erects signs along highways notifying the public that a group has adopted part of the highway, meaning the Ku Klux Klan chapter would get public recognition of their clean-up efforts should the application be approved.
As Georgia officials meet to determine how it will act on the application, there is precedent they can look to.
In 1997, Missouri rejected a similar application by the Klan on the basis that it was a racially discriminating group, Reuters reported. However, the Klan appealed and won their case in a federal appeals court. Prosecutors sought to get the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court but were unsuccessful.
Chambers, the Union County Klan's secretary, denied that the group was full of hate.
We're not racists, Chambers told CNN. We just want to be with white people. If that's a crime, then I don't know. It's all right to be black and Latino and proud, but you can't be white and proud. I don't understand it.
I don't see why we can't adopt the highway, Chambers continued. Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.