Published: 02:50 EDT, 3 August 2020
Arkansas Black Lives Matter protesters traveled to Zinc, Arkansas, to march on the Ku Klux Klan’s Grand Wizard’s hometown and compound Sunday.
The protest comes just four days after a viral video labeled nearby Harrison, Arkansas, as being ‘America’s Most Racist Town’ and the ‘Ku Klux Klan’s headquarters.’
The KKK’s website claims its national headquarters to be in Harrison and that its national director, Thomas Robb, uses at least three post office boxes there, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
The Ozarks Hate Watch group posted on Facebook that these men blocked the road leading to Robb’s compound
Armed local residents were seen standing in the road leading to Robb’s compound Sunday in an effort to help keep the peace
Black Lives Matter protesters traveled to Zinc, Arkansas, where Ku Klux Klan national director Thomas Robb has a compound, to demonstrate on Sunday
The protest comes just four days after a viral video labeled nearby Harrison, Arkansas, as being ‘America’s Most Racist Town’ and the ‘Ku Klux Klan’s headquarters
Local Zinc residents were spotted carrying guns while on their porches, watching the protesters Sunday
A local resident is seen armed while watching over the protesters on Sunday. Militia groups were said to have been spotted in the town during the protests
Who is Thomas Robb?
Thomas Robb is the Ku Klux Klan’s national director.
He took over the KKK in 1989.
He is said to use three post office boxes in Harrison, Arkansas.
He has a compound in Zinc, Arkansas.
Sunday’s protest was organized by Bridge the Gap NWA and also promoted by Ozarks Hate Watch, drawing Black Lives Matters protesters from as far away as Branson and Springfield.
The protesters met at the Harrison Police Department before traveling in a caravan towards Zinc, according to 40/29 News.
Along the road to Zinc, the protesters’ caravan passed people holding signs that read ‘Turn back,’ according to photos shared on Ozarks Hate Watch’s Facebook page.
Once in Zinc, the group posted pictures of armed men – some in military-style fatigues – standing in front of cars blocking a dirt road to Robb’s compound.
‘Militia blocking the road to the Klan Compound,’ Ozarks Hate Watch’s photo caption states, apparently referring to the road that leads to Robb’s Zinc home. ‘Too bad they didn’t realize we had no intention on going to his compound.’
‘You’re out here in your little neck of the woods where you think you don’t have to see the people that you hate,’ protester Sonny Cropper told KY3, explaining why he and others had traveled to the small town.
‘We know that hatred is here and we still don’t tolerate it.’
The news station reported that several dozen protesters had descended on the town for what they planned to be a peaceful protest.
‘Several’ locals were seen congregating at the other end of the town.
Photos from the protest show Zinc locals carrying rifles, standing and sitting on front porches apparently keeping an eye on the protesters and protecting their homes.
KKK national director Thomas Robb has a compound in Zinc, Arkansas. The protesters said they ‘threw a barbecue in the KKK’s backyard’
A local man is seen engaging protesters in discussion. The protesters traveled to Zinc after meeting up in nearby Harrison, Arkansas – said to be the headquarters of the KKK – on Sunday morning
Protesters said that they held a barbecue and offered food to anyone who wanted to eat with them
An armed protester (left) is seen in Zinc, while other protesters held signs and chanted in what appeared to have been a peaceful protest on Sunday
Protesters were seen holding up fists while local residents drove past them while they were in Zinc Sunday
Protesters said that they had traveled to Zinc to shine a spotlight on the town and said that nobody had ever demonstrated there before. All protesters were said to have been able to leave the city safely
Several dozen protesters were said to have gathered to make the trip to Zinc, Arkansas, from neighboring cities and towns
Officers with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department kept an eye on the protesters and locals to keep the peace
In addition to carrying guns, the men had used their cars as physical road blocks on the dirt road leading to Robb’s compound
Local residents were seen armed while standing on the side of the road at the other end town where the protesters stood
Protesters and armed local residents are seen talking in the middle of the road during Sunday’s protest as officers watched
Ozarks Hate Watch’s Facebook page say they identified several counter protesters as being members of the League of the South. The alleged hate group members were said to be seen holding guns and sitting on folding chairs along the road as they watched the protesters.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the League of the South as a hate group with a neo-Confederate ideology.
Officers from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department were also on hand watching over the protesters.
‘Sheriff Tim Roberson told 40/29 News that his department’s ‘role’ will be to ‘that we will keep the peace, that’s what one of our duties will be. Obviously if there are violations of the law then those folks that do that will be subject to be arrested.’
He added that ‘We will be prepared for that if anything bad does happen.’
Among the armed locals watching the protesters Sunday was Zinc resident Kenny Devore who said of them: ‘I think if they want to start trouble they should do it in their own town. We didn’t ask for ’em, we ain’t never done nothing to them. And I don’t really see what the reason is for them being here.’
He added that locals ‘just want them to get done and go away.’
Protesters are seen here speaking with a local man. The group said that they wanted to open a dialogue with residents
Jessica Angelica (left) and Aaron Clarke (center), co-founders of Bridge the Gap NWA, speak to the protesters who have gathered along Zinc Road
A protester is seen shaking the hand of a local resident who was spreading the word about Jesus during the event
There were no reports of any violence during the protest, although Ozark Hate Watch wrote on Facebook that there was a shoving match between a protester and someone they identified as a ‘member of the ‘Press,” who had ‘decided to push a protestor. We kept things cool tho.’
On Sunday night, after the protesters left Zinc ‘All safe and secure,’ Ozark Hate Watch member said that the protest had taken two months to plan amongst different activist groups.
They said that despite claims, ‘our plan did not involve setting one foot on Lead Hill Road or making advances toward Tom Robb’s property. We kept it close to the chest to give ourselves a tactical advantage for sake of security.’
‘What happened in zinc today was history,’ Aaron Clarke said in a Facebook Live video. He added that the group was not run out of town ‘with their tails tucked between their legs.’
‘We went down there and nobody’s been down there, nobody’s ever protested in that community. … We literally went and threw a barbecue in the KKK’s backyard.’
‘We came down there to bridge the gap…what we did was we went into the community that has basically operated by the Ku Klux Klan and we extended our hand. We came down there with food for anybody who wanted food, they were able to get food,’ Clarke said.
He added that they didn’t go ‘all the way down the dirt road’ leading to Robb’s compound, because ‘it was very clear that if the road was crowded, it could turn a potential peaceful protest into a violent protest. We didn’t want things to get violent.’
Clarke added that the reason for the protesters going to Zinc – and eventually returning, hopefully the ‘numbers will be bigger’ – was to say that ‘you do need to be held accountable’ and to put the spotlight on the town.