- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ku Klux Klan members are expected to rally outside a Georgia courthouse on Sunday to protest the recent sentencing of a couple convicted of terrorizing an African-American family during a 2015 birthday party.

Members of the North Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan will gather outside the Douglas County courthouse in Douglasville, Ga. at noon on Sunday, the group’s self-proclaimed leader told local media Friday, following the sentencing this week of Jose Torres and Kayla Norton, two members of a Confederate pride group known as “Respect the Flag.”

Torres and Norton were sentenced Monday to 13- and 6-years in prison, respectively, for convictions related to a July 2015 incident in which their group rode a convoy of trucks up to an 8-year-old black child’s birthday party and yelled racial slurs. Prosecutors charged more than a dozen members of Respect the Flag with violations of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, and said Torres pulled a shotgun on the family at one point and threatened to kill people.

Steven Shane Howard, the “imperial wizard” of the KKK offshoot, called their sentencing a “tragedy” afterwards and said his group will protest outside the courthouse Sunday, the Douglas County Sentinel reported.

“Them people were doing a flag run and they were attacked. They had the right to defend their selves. Nobody was shot, no fight, no nothing,” he told the newspaper.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged the group’s plans on Friday, but advised residents in a Facebook post to avoid the courthouse in lieu of giving the Klan an audience.

“We are prepared for trouble but I don’t think there will be any,” Sheriff Tim Pounds told the Sentinel, adding that authorities anticipate the event to last an hour and half at the most.

“If he respects the law, I don’t have a problem with what they do,” the sheriff added. “If they get out of bounds of the law, then we are going to do what we need to do. We’ll be armed. Everybody has the right to protest. As long as it is peaceful and within bounds of the law, I don’t have a problem with whatever they do.”

The imperial wizard did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, WSB-TV reported.

More than 100 offshoots of the KKK are currently in operation across the U.S., according to a report released last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights watchdog. The group’s annual Intelligence Report counted 917 separate hate groups throughout the country in 2016, including 130 unique factions of the Klan in addition to 99 neo-Nazi groups.

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