The North Mississippi White Nights of the Ku Klux Klan have announced plans to be in Douglas County this weekend.
Imperial Wizard Steven Shane Howard is planning to bring a group of klansmen to the courthouse at noon on Sunday to protest the recent sentencing of Jose Ismael Torres, 26, and Kayla Rae Norton, 25, for their involvement in a racial exchange between their group, Respect the Flag, and those attending a black 8-year-old child's birthday party.
Howard said he is bringing Klan members to protest the "tragedy" that occurred during sentencing on Monday.
"We are coming to Douglas County because of the tragedy that has happened to them people," said Howard.
"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."
While Howard said he agrees that Torres and Norton deserve time in prison, he feels that the extent of the sentencing was too much. Torres was sentenced to 20 years with 13 to be served in prison and Norton was sentenced to 15 years with six to be served in prison by Superior Court Judge William "Beau" McClain.
"'That judge is corrupted," said Howard. "That judge is a crook … and that is what I think about him. That time that he gave them people is absurd. It is absurd and that will not stand and he will hear from the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of America. He will hear from Imperial Wizard Steven Howard."
Howard said he plans to talk to McClain in person, even though the courthouse is closed on Sunday.
"That judge is going to hear from me personally because I am going to go to his office," said Howard. "I am going to find out where he is because I will be there early and I am going to go to his office and I am going to personally sit down and have a talk with that judge."
McClain has received death threats since the sentencing, according to Sheriff Tim Pounds, who added that the judge is receiving extra protection. Pounds said that if Howard shows up makes death threats, he will be arrested.
While Howard said he does not personally know Torres and Norton, he feels compelled to come to Douglas County to protest their sentencing.
"I don't know anybody up there personally," said Howard. "I know that what I am going up there for is what happened. It was a tragedy. I don't know these people but when a wrong is wrong, they are going to hear from the Ku Klux Klan. By God, they are going to hear from the Ku Klux Klan come Sunday."
Howard has extensive connections with the KKK and considers himself "the man" for the KKK.
"I am pretty well known," said Howard. "I have got videos all over YouTube. A lot of these jokers strut around and claim it but I am the man for the Ku Klux Klan. I am the head."
While Howard is claiming that he will bring 150 robed klansmen who will be armed with high-powered rifles, Pounds called that "a bald-faced lie."
"That is the stuff he wanted the news and media to portray," said Pounds. "Look for 12 (people), no more than 12."
Pounds said he doesn't expect any trouble from the Klan. He said the sheriff's office is collaborating with Douglasville Police Chief Gary Sparks for the anticipated protest. Both Pounds and Sparks will be present at the protest on Sunday with around 20 to 25 officers and other law enforcement, including the S.W.A.T. Team, on standby.
"We are prepared for trouble but I don't think there will be any," said Pounds. "We don't anticipate it to last an hour and half at the most. The city and I got together and met. We know exactly what our intentions are. We are prepared for it. We are going to do some things to make sure everything is OK and our people are taken care of."
"If he respects the law, I don't have a problem with what they do," added Sparks. "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."
Pounds said he feels that Howard and his Klan are looking for the spotlight and are exaggerating their intents.
"I think he is a riff-raff wannabe," said Pounds. "I think he is trying to be bigger than what he really is and getting this little exposure. That's all. I think he will come, show his face, because it gives him an opportunity. It gives him the chance for exposure time. I believe they will come, say what they got to say and leave."
Pounds is urging citizens to stay away and let the Klan ride out their protest.
"Stay away if possible," said Pounds. "The courthouse is closed. If you don't have a reason to be there, which you don't because it's closed, stay out of that area.
"I want to always keep my citizens abreast of what's going on," Pounds said. "I really do. I want them to be informed but I also want them to understand we got it. We can handle it. Whatever they bring, we are ready for it, but I really don't expect any trouble. It's nothing to be alarmed about."