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No KKK rally, but peace rally still held
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Peace rally speakers and spectators gather outside the parking lot of the Rockdale County Courthouse. - photo by Michelle Kim

About 60 protesters and spectators turned out for a peace rally scheduled in response to an online listing of a KKK rally on Saturday at noon. No one showed up as a representative for the KKK rally itself.

Police, deputies and state Troopers blocked of a portion of Milstead Avenue while marchers switched between walking down the sidewalk in front of the Rockdale County Courthouse and speaking in front of the Board of Commissioners offices.

One of the organizers, John Evans, a former DeKalb County commissioner and the president of the non-profit Operation LEAD, said local officials had wanted to "keep the Klan out and keep us out."

"We're not ducking anybody. We're not scared of anybody. We'll keep fighting," he said. "Wherever ugliness pops its head, we've got to show up."

Organizer Gerald Rose said "In the year 2010, when you hear it's possible the KKK will come to a community, I'm very concerned."
He said he was not disappointed that the KKK did not show up. "My job is not to confront these people but to let them know and let the young people know things like this do still occur. We have to let them know we can't run from it."

"It's all about bringing a healing process. We're all Americans. We have to come together as one people."

Other speakers included Andrew Bostic, who is running for State Representative District 94, and RJ Hadley, former chief of staff for Rockdale County and currently a candidate for U.S. Senate.

A number of people came just to see what was going on.

Jodi Williams, a DeKalb County resident, said she heard about the peace rally on a friend's website and decided to come with her 10-year-old daughter Sumerr. "I wanted to see what all this was about."

Spectators Charlie and Kevin McAllister, longtime local residents, said they had stopped by when they saw the police cars and heard about the rally. "It's just something you don't see everyday," said Charlie of the protest and rally, adding that it was smaller than they had expected.

The rally was briefly paused for a moment of silence when organizers learned a Rockdale County deputy had been shot.

At least a few spectators were put off by the counter rally.

One spectator, a white Rockdale resident who declined to give his name, said "You see a lot of black this and black that. When they put a color on it, they're being racist. They don't like the confederate flag, but we get offended when we see their t-shirts, with black this and black that... They still want to lean on that slavery crutch. They've got the same or more rights than whites."

"This is 2010. We've got a black president. We got black lawyers, black judges, black lawyers. What in the world do they want?"

A former Rockdale resident who had recently moved to Loganville also declined to give his name but said "Anytime you hear about racism, it's only whites. Racism is if you don't like any color."

"I'm not a prejudiced person. I've got Mexicans that work for me, that are legal, and I've got black men that sell for me. It ain't about color. It's about people's actions and self respect and respect for other people."