The Ku Klux Klan made promises it didn't keep.On Saturday, the KKK held a rally at Gloverville Park on Pine Street. They promised a march, they promised KKK members from four states and they promised a speech. A march never occurred, Klan members didn't identify themselves and an official speech was never made.More than 100 people turned out to witness the spectacle. Some were Klan supporters, some neighbors, some curious spectators, some protesters and even a pair of tourists from Colorado on vacation in Aiken County. There was plenty of media, and the Aiken County Sheriff's Office was out in force. The three-ring circus boiled down to one man, Tim Bradly, Grand Dragon of the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The event officially got under way as Bradly walked to the center of the park and hung a Confederate/South Carolina flag on the fence of the baseball field's backstop. Then, one by one, the media began to file in to speak to the man who outspokenly coordinated the rally.Curiosity got the better of the spectators surrounding the park, and they, too, began to crowd around Bradly. The promise of other KKK members joining was made repeatedly. At one point, according to Bradly, KKK members from out of state sent him a text message that they got a late start and were in Greenville. Bradly said they were to meet at the park before retreating to a private farm where a private members-only induction ceremony and cross burning would be held later in the evening.Early on, Norman Tice, who identified himself as a longtime KKK member from Bath, claimed the group was expecting nearly 1,000 people to show up. "We are out today to get more members. ... Our main issue is immigrants. ... They come over here and take jobs from our kids and grandkids," said Tice. "We ain't doing nothing wrong no more. This is about freedom of speech."As the attention turned to Bradly, he said the group had been seeking a central location to hold a rally, and the Valley served as the right spot. He also mentioned that the group plans to hold a rally at the Edgefield courthouse in the upcoming months. "We are here to let everyone know we are not the hate group from the '50s and '60s. We are basically a Christian organization that stands up for white rights just like the NAACP. If we could work side by side with them, it would be fine with us," said Bradly."Our people are out of jobs," said Bradly. "We are here to open people's eyes about immigration policies and Obama's health care policies. ... This rally is about illegal immigration and what the Obama administration is doing to the American people."The recurring theme of the day was that the group doesn't consider itself racist. However, Bradly stated membership in the KKK is only open to white American citizens and members must not have felonies and be nonviolent and Christian.Some spectators came for amusement, including one Puerto Rican man and his wife. They were determined to attend the rally and spent the morning keeping tabs on Bradly to ensure they didn't miss the rally. "We are here because it is the first time we have ever seen something like this. It is a big joke," said Kevin Migel Hernandez. "I believe he is nuts. We would like to give him an invitation to Puerto Rico, and he can try to do the same thing there.""We just didn't want to miss it," said Mary Bell Hernandez. "I stand up for what I believe in, and I wanted to see what these guys are standing for," said Hernandez. Another young woman spoke angrily into her cell phone at several points during the gathering. She was clearly disgusted by what she was witnessing."I came here because I thought I would see the KKK march, and it would be entertainment, but it's a bunch of nonsense," said Bethany Medlock. "If the group isn't racist, why can't blacks or Hispanics join? And they say they are Christian, but what is the burning of the cross about? Jesus died on the cross for us, and they want to burn it. It makes no sense." Others came to voice their opinions. At several points, screaming matches erupted, and Bradly reminded everyone the objective was nonviolent. Only one man was asked by the Aiken County Sheriff's Office deputies to take a breather. He wasn't asked to leave, just to calm down.Near the end, two young African-American men conducting research for a school project on how the KKK is invading Aiken County were thrown into the spotlight. Kevin Gilcrih and Isaac Butler stood in the crowd swarming Bradly and an outspoken man named Gomez, who never identified himself as a KKK member but as a supporter of their beliefs. The issue of racism was brought to the forefront again, and Gomez and Bradly asked the cameras to make sure they caught the two shaking hands with Gilcrih and Butler. The two young men then found themselves the focus of the media. They were told by a reporter they had just shaken hands with the Grand Dragon of the KKK and asked how they felt. "I can't say it's believable, but it was a gesture. The guy pointed all his attention to me just to shake my hand," Gilcrih said. For more on the KKK rally held on Saturday, tune into ASTV this week. Footage from the event will be aired on Atlantic Broadband's Channel 95.Contact Rachel Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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