Gulfport man shares his account of South Carolina Klan rally - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport man shares his account of South Carolina Klan rally

James Bates is a documentary photographer who has covered for rallies for nearly two decades (Image Source: WLOX News) James Bates is a documentary photographer who has covered for rallies for nearly two decades (Image Source: WLOX News)
CHARLESTON, SC (WLOX) -

A Gulfport man was in the midst of the chaos in Columbia, South Carolina where several groups, including the KKK, rallied in response to the removal of the confederate battle flag at the state house grounds.

Jamie Bates, who is a documentary photographer, traveled from Gulfport to South Carolina to photograph the rally. He says both sides were very vocal, but protesters far outnumbered the Klansman and national socialists groups.
 
“Some of the stuff I'm not going to repeat, but it was a lot of anger on their side. There was some vulgarity on both sides,” said Bates.

Bates says the comments were not just about the flag, but racially charged as well.

“Certainly there was a lot of defense of the flag, but there was a lot of racial comments that were flying from both sides,” said Bates.

As the rally was coming to an end, police cleared a path for the Klansman to leave, but Bates says the protesters followed.

“There were bottles being thrown, pieces of concrete curb being thrown, few people got hit, not many. I saw one person get hit in the ankle,” said Bates.

Having covered several Klan rallies, Bates felt the police had a hard time controlling this one.

“I don't think the police probably did the best job they could to prepare for today's event. There was one barricaded area for the Klan to be in, they didn't separate the protesters very well and I think that's what led to the confrontation,” said Bates.
               
Bates says after witnessing this rally, he foresees something similar happening right here in Mississippi, since this it is the last state to still have the confederate battle symbol as part of the flag.

“I hope that we can come to an agreement that makes both sides happy and we respect each other, because today was ugly, and it's not a good thing to be a part of,” said Bates.

A few arrests were made, but no serious injuries were reported.

To see the photos taken by Bates at the rally, visit www.kkkproject.org

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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