KKK Shop Becomes the Property of a Black Church

A circuit court judge ordered the shop’s proprietor to pay a South Carolina church’s legal bills of more than $3,300.

Posted: 01/04/2012 08:03 PM EST

The Black church has taken over the KKK, or at least a store selling its memorabilia in South Carolina.


A circuit court judge recently ruled that New Beginnings Baptist Church is the rightful property owner of the Redneck Shop, which operates as a so-called Klan museum, selling robes and t-shirts with racial slurs.


According to court documents, in 1997, ownership of the Laurens, South Carolina building in which the store exists was transferred to the Rev. David Kennedy and his church, by a Klansman fighting with others within the hate group. A clause in the deed, however, entitled John Howard, a former KKK grand dragon for the Carolinas, to operate his business in the building until he dies.


After years of trying to have the property inspected, Howard was sued by Kennedy, New Beginnings and others in 2008 in an effort to void the agreement and, on Dec. 9, 2011, a judge ruled in Kennedy and the church’s favor.


“It has been a long time coming,” Kennedy, who learned of the ruling this week, told the Associated Press. “We knew we had done everything right. … The court knows that we have suffered.”


Kennedy claims that because of the store, his congregation’s numbers have decreased as some of its 200 members became fearful of reprisals from Klan members. The congregants also found Nazi and Confederate symbols and dead animals left outside of the mobile home where the church now meets, though it is not known if Klansmen were responsible.


Kennedy has been known as a fighter of racial injustice. He protested when South Carolina country refused to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and he helped lobby to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome.


Although the shop’s proprietor was ordered to pay the church’s legal bills of more than $3,300 and Kennedy previously expressed that he would like to close the store and hold his church meeting there, official word has not been given on how the space will be used.


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(Photo: AP Photo/Patrick Collard, File)