State authorities in Georgia were set to meet Monday to discuss an application by a local Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group to "adopt" a section of highway under the state's roadway-cleaning program, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
If the application is approved, the group -- the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Realm of Georgia -- would receive official recognition from the state in return for clearing trash from a stretch of Route 515 in Union County, near the border with North Carolina.
The Adopt-A-Highway application, which was filed May 21, places state authorities in the position of either recognizing the controversial group or facing a legal battle they may not win.
Authorities in Missouri faced a legal challenge after they tried to prevent a similar application by a local KKK group. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately ruled in favor of the KKK, on First Amendment grounds.
"We just want to clean up the doggone road," Harley Hanson, who filed the Georgia application, told the newspaper. "We're not going to be out there in robes."
Hanson added, "I love my race. Does that make me wrong? I'm proud to be white. We are good, decent Christian Americans, and what we're trying to do is to work with the local community."
But any move to recognize a KKK group would face strong opposition.
"This is about membership building and rebranding their name in a public way," State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta), head of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, told the Journal-Constitution. "If the state approves [their application], then they are complicit."
Brooks also described the group as a "domestic terror group," asking, "What's next, are we going to let neo-Nazis or the Taliban or al Qaeda adopt highways?"
The website of the state's Department of Transportation says that "any civic-minded organization, business, individual, family, city, county, state or federal agency is welcome to volunteer in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway program," which began in 1989.
In return, it promises to "erect a sign with the Adopt-A-Highway logo and your group's name after your first pickup."