by: Tom Regan, WSBTV.com Updated:
LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga. - A KKK banner hung from a historic building sparked outrage in Dahlonega Thursday.
The banner, which read “Historic Ku Klux Klan Meeting Hall,” was hung early Thursday morning from the roof of one of the oldest buildings in the city. Flags were also hung on either end of the roof.
The building is vacant, so it fell on city officials to remove the banner, but not before protests took place in the city square.
“Offensive, intimidating, discriminating, hateful and it's just something that needs to go,” resident Elka Peterson said.
“We’re not going to allow this in our town,” William Peterson said. “It’s hate-mongering.”
The sheriff told Channel 2’s Tom Regan that calls poured into his office about the banner.
“I hate that instances like this take place. I really do,” Sheriff Stacey Jarrad said. “They have a right to freedom of speech, so we’re limited on what we could do as far as law enforcement. Fortunately, the city of Dahlonega had an ordinance they could take action with.”
City officials determined that the banner was a sign ordinance violation and brought in a cherry-picker to take it down.
“We’re proud of our town and it certainly doesn’t reflect the majority of the people in this town or this country," Peterson said.
One teen told Regan that he didn’t see a problem with the sign.
“I think it’s just freedom of speech. Proud of being white,” the teen said.
But business owners in the city said they’re worried that the banner and flags, now removed, will hurt business in the tourist town.
“This is totally bad publicity for a very sweet town. A town that’s not about this at all,” Penny Sharp said. “It’s just a slap in the face to the kind of community that we are.”
The sheriff said they do not know who put up the banner. A woman owns the building. Regan reached out to her to see if she allowed the banner to be hung there, but has not heard back.
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