ROXBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Roxboro Police Chief David Hess said at a news conference Monday the police department received notice that the Ku Klux Klan would drive through the city an hour before it happened on Saturday.
“I share in your pain, anger and displeasure with the group choosing Roxboro,” Hess said. “We do not know why they chose the city of Roxboro. What we do know is that this city embraces love and peace and unity and for those reasons our actions were to get the group out of the city as fast as we could to protect their constitutional rights and to protect the safety of the people in this community.”
The KKK had about 20 vehicles pass through Roxboro as law enforcement blocked roads to help the group “leave the city as fast as possible,” Hess said in an email Sunday.
The unannounced event in Roxboro came after a stabbing and two arrests at a KKK meeting less than a day before a planned event in Pelham in Caswell County on Saturday.
The Pelham event never materialized and instead the Klan drove through Roxboro in about five minutes with only a couple of bystanders, officials said.
But some residents said it wasn’t just a “drive through.”
Residents said some of these vehicles had their windows rolled down and people inside them were pointing at people on the street and yelling racial slurs.
“I immediately became outraged and upset,” said witness April Short. “They were pointing, they were screaming ‘white power.’ They had their fists in the air. They were hanging out of the window.”
“My child could have been standing beside me. Your child could have been standing beside me. And for your child to hear that and my child, who’s just 6 years old to hear that was uncalled for,” said Roxboro resident Gerald Wallace.
The Roxboro event, in which many vehicles flew the Confederate battle flag and displayed Loyal Knights of the KKK emblems, has “invoked raw emotions,” Hess said.
Hess told reporters gathered at the news conference Monday the City of Roxboro and the police department doesn’t support the beliefs of the KKK and that the event had “created fear in the lives of [the] community.”
Police only found out about the event because a state undercover officer alerted the department to the KKK’s plans about an hour beforehand.
The city will host a community prayer vigil on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the New Mount Zion Baptist Church at 305 Walker Street.