A north Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan has applied to adopt a stretch of highway in Union County, GA, CNN reports. The application was filed by the International Keystome Knights of the KKK on May 21.
If the application is accepted, it would allow the group to clean litter off part of Georgia State Route 515 near the North Carolina border, CNN reports.
In 1997, a KKK chapter in Missouri made a similar bid, and it was rejected, Reuters reports. The state of Missouri said the Ku Klux Klan's rules were "racially discriminatory" and ruled against granting their request. The case went to a federal appeals court who ruled in favor of the KKK. The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The Keystone Knights are prepared for a similar outcome, and if their application is rejected, they are willing to take legal action.
Harley Hanson, who is known by his formal title, the "Exalted Cyclops" of the Union County Klan told Reuters "We're not going to be deterred!"
He said the group's goal was simply to help the community. "Our intentions are to keep the road clean," Hanson said. "We love our race. We don't promote violence."
The group's secretary, April Chambers, said she applied for the program to keep the scenic highway "beautiful," The AP reports.
"I live in the mountains and I want to keep them beautiful," Chambers said, noting that tourists frequently throw trash along the highway as they pass through. "We didn't intend on this being big. I don't know anybody's offended by it."
In response, Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks said he'd like to educate Ms. Chambers and the rest of the group about the Klan's legacy of violence and racism, The AP reports.
"I'd like to sit down with this young lady and say, 'Your organization tried to kill me,' Brooks said Monday. He added that he finds the idea of a highway sign recognizing the KKK as a civic group "insulting and insane."
According to CNN, Georgia Department of Transportation Jill Goldberg confirmed receiving the application, but said "the department is deferring comment beyond that, however, until a resolution is determined."