Judge: KKK store in South Carolina rightfully owned by a black congregation

A member of the Ku Klux Klan salutes during an American Nazi Party rally. The KKK in South Carolina recently lost a lawsuit to New Beginnings Baptist Church; the congregation and its reverend have been ruled to be the rightful owners of the Redneck Shop, which sells KKK robes and t-shirts.
William Thomas Cain

Justice works in strange ways.

After a long legal battle, a South Carolina court ruled last month that New Beginnings Baptist Church rightfully owns The Redneck Shop, a store where the KKK sells robes and other memorabilia, the Associated Press reported

The building, an old movie theater in Laurens, South Carolina (named after 18th century slave trader Henry Laurens) was transferred to Reverend David Kennedy and his church by a Klansman who was feuding with John Howard, the store's proprietor and former KKK grand dragon for the Carolinas, over a woman. The Klansman "developed a spiritual relationship" with New Beginnings church, and transferred ownership of the building to Kennedy and his congregation in 1997, according to court records. 

After attempting to have the property inspected for years, Kennedy and New Beginnings sued Howard and others in 2008.

It is not yet clear if the ruling means Howard must close The Redneck Shop, which has been the target of protests in the past, including a man who drove his truck through the front windows just days after the store opened.

"It has been a long time coming," Kennedy told the AP of the ruling. "We knew we had done everything right. ...The court knows that we have suffered."

According to the Associated Press, 

Kennedy said his congregation's numbers have decreased in recent years as some of its 200 members became fearful of reprisals from Klan members. Nazi and Confederate symbols have been tacked to the door of the double-wide mobile home where New Beginnings now meets, Kennedy said, and dead animals have been left at the building.

"A lot of people became so afraid," Kennedy said. "I just told them that it is part of our faith to endure."

Kennedy, who has a history of protesting racial injustice, declined to speak of his plans for the store. 

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