Armed Ku Klux Klan members carrying Confederate and Klan flags and banners rallied in front of the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough on Saturday.
The Klan members were quickly outnumbered by anti-racist counter-protesters.
Despite open-carrying pistols, none of the KKK demonstrators were arrested under either laws against carrying weapons to political demonstrations or “going armed to the terror of the public.”
State lawmakers and the Mayor Tom Stevens took to Twitter to make statements on the rally.
In a public statement on the rally, the Town of Hillsborough said the Klan members did not have a permit for their demonstration
“Over the past few months, small groups of two to five people have been coming to Hillsborough from time to time and holding Confederate flags on public sidewalks,” the statement said. “The Hillsborough Police Department manages these demonstrations on a case-by-case basis. Today, officers worked with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to monitor and manage the demonstrations.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Weaver emphasized that a much larger number of community members demonstrating against the Klan showed up to oppose them before the crowd finally dispersed around 6:30 p.m.
Anti-racist demonstrators released a joint statement on the demonstration in which they criticized law enforcement’s lack of action to curb armed demonstrations by white supremacist groups.
“Antiracist activists maintain that demonstrations by armed white supremacists, such as the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Hillsborough on 24 August and the Klan-affiliated Heirs to the Confederacy in Chapel Hill on 20 August, are only possible due to protection offered to these white supremacists by local law enforcement,” the statement said.
Photographer Daniel Hosterman captured images showing the KKK demonstrators interacting with police while armed.
Many observers have noted that the Loyal White Knights banner encouraged people to “Help make America great again” by joining the Klan.
The slogan was popularized by President Donald Trump’s political campaign.