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KKK plans South Carolina State House rally

The State, Columbia, S.C. logoThe State, Columbia, S.C. 6/30/2015 Andrew Shain

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Ku Klux Klan will hold a rally at the South Carolina State House next month to protest efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds.

Any group can request to hold a rally at the State House as long as its grounds are available, said Brian Gaines, a spokesman for the South Carolina Budget and Control Board.

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan requested the rally from 3 to 5 p.m. on July 18, Gaines said. The Klan is expecting 100 to 200 to attend, according to a copy of its state event form.

Calling itself the "Largest Klan in America," the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are based in Pelham, N.C., according to the group's website.

A man identifying himself as the "grand titan" of the North Carolina chapter of the Loyal White Knights left a message with The State saying his group is holding the demonstration because "to us they are erasing white history and white culture right out of the history books. That's why they want to take that flag down."

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who along with other state political and business leaders has called for banishing the flag from the State House grounds, said of the KKK rally: "This is our state, and they are not welcome."

The South Carolina Legislature will take up bills calling for the flag's removal when lawmakers return to Columbia on July 6. Calls to remove the flag have taken off since nine African-American churchgoers were shot and killed June 17 in Charleston. Authorities have called that massacre a hate crime.

Haley has said she knows the Civil War banner represents Southern heritage to some people. But the flag offends other South Carolina residents, who view it was a symbol of oppression, Haley said last week, calling for its removal.

The flag controversy has spurred several State House demonstrations already.

An anti-flag rally three days after the killings drew more than 1,000 people. The Sons of Confederate Veterans held a news event to support the flag Thursday.

Demonstrators protest at the South Carolina State House calling for the Confederate flag to remain on the State House grounds June 27, 2015 in Columbia, S.C. © Win McNamee/Getty Images Demonstrators protest at the South Carolina State House calling for the Confederate flag to remain on the State House grounds June 27, 2015 in Columbia, S.C.
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