Thursday, 6 March 2014

KKK flag in West Boca neighborhood stirs up controversy

A West Boca man started a firestorm of controversy in his neighborhood and beyond by putting a Ku Klux Klan flag, noose and “members wanted” sign in his front yard.

Located outside a mobile home along Sandalfoot Boulevard off of U.S. 441, the display didn't sit well with some neighbors, who called it offensive and upsetting. It's also been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, which called the flag and noose “highly offensive.”

Margaret Martin, who lives across the street, said it goes beyond that — it scares her. She said she grew up hearing stories from her family about violent encounters with Klansmen.

“And now here I am, 58, and I'm actually seeing it,” said Martin, who is black. “They experienced it, and now I'm seeing it for myself.”

People who live in the house where the flag's on display say it's not a symbol of hate and there's nothing to worry about, adding that the noose was a “bad joke.”

“It's really not a big deal,” Marla Curley told Sun Sentinel news partner CBS12. “Tell them to stop worrying. The black lady can stop worrying. We're not going to, you know, burn her house or kill her children … It's just not going to happen.”

Late Wednesday, WSVN-Ch. 7 reported that the flag had been taken down. Curley told the station that it would be replaced with an American flag.

A second KKK flag accompanied by a sign that says “Warning: Mess with the Klan and the results will be ugly” stands outside a house a few blocks away.

The residents there, who did not want to give their names, distanced themselves from the other exhibit, saying that they're members of a faction of the KKK that isn't racist or violent and stands just for preserving the white race.

In a statement Wednesday, a representative with the Anti-Defamation League acknowledged the right to display the KKK flag, but said it condemned the flag and noose display because of the fearful emotions it evokes.

“While the display is likely legal, these symbols are highly offensive, hurtful and a haunting reminder of the Ku Klux Klan's history of violence, terrorism, and lynchings of African Americans,” said Hava Holzhauer, a director for the league's Florida region.

Lucas Harris, another neighbor, said he thinks the flag's presence was “outrageous.”

“To me, they're very ignorant,” he said of the people behind the display. “I wasn't raised like that.”

Martin said she never thought she'd see a sign of the KKK in this day and age.

“I will pray for that man because he evidently believes what he's doing is OK,” she said.


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