The Ku Klux Klan held a rally in South Carolina on Saturday to protest the state’s decision to remove the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds.
US sources have reported that the white supremacist protesters were met by a crowd of counter-protesters which included members of a revived Black Panther Party.
Small scuffles and heated debates resulted in a few minor incidents, including one KKK affiliated individual throwing a rock at a counter-protester. Several arrests were made and seven people treated by medical personnel, CNN reports.
According to the New York Times, chants of “white power” were met by calls for “black power”, and Confederate Flags opposed with those representing Pan-Africanism.
Other sources have however reported that the more than 1000 counter-protesters consisted of a wide range of anti-KKK activists.
The Loyal White Knights of the KKK were founded in 1865 a few months after the Confederate Army’s surrender which ended the US civil war. They have been associated with some of the most heinous crimes committed against African-Americans in southern US states over the past 150 years.
Preaching a vision of white supremacy, racism and anti-Semitism, the KKK has emphasised close historical ties with its slave-owning, Confederate past. Nazi flags are also commonly observed at their rallies. Today, the KKK has an estimated 5000 members.
The government passed a bill to remove the flag and place it in a museum just over a week ago.
On Wednesday night, US President Obama travelled to Oklahoma City, where he was met by about a dozen residents waving Confederate flags as a welcome. Obama has strongly supported the flag being placed in a museum.
Many African-Americans and supporters have spoken out against the Confederate Flag flying on South Carolina state grounds. The opposition was revived after the shooting of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina in June. Most evidence suggests that the suspect, Dylann Roof, acted out of racial hatred.