This sign may show up on one stretch of Georgia highway, with lawsuits surrounding the KKK’s ability to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program currently underway .
July 18, 2012 — This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agreed to back Georgia’s Ku Klux Klan chapter, in its efforts to participate in the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program. Two weeks earlier, the Georgia Department of Transportation rejected an application by local KKK-leader Harley Hanson and his wife, claiming that no Ku Klux Klan members live in the county containing the stretch of highway that the Klan is attempting to adopt. Despite these claims, Hanson contests that he could muster up a minimum of six volunteers to regularly monitor the site.
The ACLU will contest residency requirements and offer assistance to the Klan on the grounds of First Amendment liberties. While ACLU executive director Debbie Seagraves is unsure of the legal strategy that will be used in the case, the Union expects to provide legal representation in favor of the Klan’s highway ownership aspirations. Residents in close proximity to the stretch of highway in question are largely averse to the publicity the road will garner, claiming that the ownership will cause more harm than it will good.
April Chambers, the secretary of the Klan’s chapter, answered those protestations saying, “We’re not doing it for publicity. We’re doing it to keep the mountains beautiful.” Despite the motives behind the Klan’s adoption of the Union County highway, the controversy surrounding the application and the litigation therein has generated nationwide attention.
The Adopt-A-Highway program started innocently enough, created in the 1980s in response to the expensive public costs of cleaning up litter that had fallen off a truck on a Texas highway. Today, the program is used mainly by corporations for cheap advertising along routes with dense traffic. The KKK is undoubtedly the most controversial participant in the Adopt-A-Highway system, and details are unfolding as to whether the Klan will be permitted to own part of Georgia’s public infrastructure.
– S. Walsh