I shot a KKK rally in Kentuky once. It was the dumbest story I ever shot, even dumber than the State legislature. Really, the only lesson I learned was not to cover this crap...but that's our job. Rmember, all these aholes are looking for is some attention. I think it would be cool to shoot a KKK rally and show as little of "them" as possible.
It's like shooting a pro wrestling match. It seems real, but you know they're just a bunch of dumb Sh!ts looking for a reaction...so try to give as little of a SH!T as possible...it will really piss them off.
That's my two cents...
It's been my experience that whenever there
is a Klan rally or march, there is usually
some type of counter march. Position yourself
for some possible confrontational B-roll.
Remember too that they are marching as much
for your camera as anything else. They want
the exposure...Make sure you use them for what
you need rather than the other way around...
(Sorry, it's difficult to remain unbiased when
dealing with these people.)
Make sure the reporter you're with WATCHES YOUR BACK!!! If things get nuts, you will not have a good field of view looking in your viewfinder. Make sure your reporter knows and understands that they need to be near you, watching out for your safety.
I would suggest that you tell your ND that there needs to be a third person in the crew. Someone to watch your back while the reporter is doing their job. Camera operators often become targets when things get out of hand.
It would be nice if these things would not get time in the news. But then again, they usually look and sound so foolish that maybe its a good thing...
speaking of teargas. take a shower just before no scented soap no chalone err smelly stuff if you get exposed to gas or mace perfumes bond it to your skin' that also means no war paint it can perminately scar your face.
malox and water 50/50 will nutralise mace and tear gas. peptobismo isn't as effective.
also clean your clothes twice with extra detergent hot water if can.
speedo goggles are handy for when the stuff starts flying.
you probably won't need to do any of this but it's good to be ready.
stay near the cops. if they won't let you get out. and report acordingly.
I shot one in East Texas once. A scary enough place even without the KKK rally. There was'nt too much opposition to the event in that small town... or maybe there was, but no one was protesting them that day. Law Enforcement Officials made the Klansmen stay on the steps of the courthouse and would'nt let the few members of the public who came to the event within 100 yards. So the KKK hooked up a PA system so they could get their "message" heard. Afterward the police wrote them a ticket for a noise ordiance violation! Ha!Ha!
I shot a klan rally in Huntsville Texas, during the Gary Graham execution. Just beware of the snagle tooth guys with all the misspelled signs. Oh yea, on that subject. Did you know tooth paste was invented in Huntsville? Had it been invented antwhere else, it would have been called teeth paste.
Yes they are pretty boring, but just in case have an exit strategy.
Take a scanner out of your unit find and earpice, and use it. If the cops are going to move, you'll have a few moments notice.
Talk to officials before hand, and find out where they will be coming from if their are problems.
I just shot a little bit as incognito as I could (between cars, from behind trees, and from behind my reporter), I didn't want to give them a reason to be out there longer. After I got my shots, I put the camera on the ground, ready to shoot yes, but not being obvious about being with the news.
At the last rally, they were scheduled to go 2 hours, but lasted only 22 minutes. There were more protesters there than Klan members.
As many said before, if the police do their job then you have nothing to worry about.
I've covered three such rallies. Every time (in my neck of the woods) the police create 4 areas.
2) media/police (right in front of KKK and inbetween public)
3) pro-KKK public
4) anti-KKK public
The KKK area is usually in front of a public building (courthouse, etc.) and the police had that taped off dividing that between the media/police area.
The media area was just big open area for crews to move around and had access to the other 3 sections.
In back was the two public sections that were seperated by a dump truck.
Everytime we covered it, it was a vo/sot except for teh one event where there was some violence (which did not happen during the rally, it happened afterwards away from the demonstration area)
Hopefully you'll have the same setup. I advise you push to not blow up coverage of the event, because the klan is merely using you to spread their message.
shot one at the Texas stae capital once.
the hardest thing about it was hearing" Sweet Home Alabama" over and over again!
DPS did a good job of putting us inbetween the KKK and the large protest crowd. easy to shoot, boring and that damn song....
Thanks for the advice, guys. Well...there were 17 klansmen who wanted to protest. The cops only allowed seven to protest because those are the only ones who could produce valid IDs. They were pinned up in what I would consider a human dog cage. The fence was probably 18 feet tall. The park (where the rally was held) was run like an airport. Klansmen, spectators, and counter-protestors had to go through metal detectors before entering the park. There were hundreds of on-lookers...not to mention 300 cops in full riot gear. The KKK was there for probably 20 minutes before they realized they were outnumbered.
Now I am not so sure that sending a black female reporter to cover the Klan rally is a good idea but our station did it and apparently it happens often at other stations.
We were sent to one in Greenville NC. There were state police in riot gear a wall of three at least 25 deep. The media, once let on the grounds, were not allowed to leave, if you were there you were there for the whole day. Once you left you couldn't come back. (My only advice is -bring a lunch and extra water) We packed it only because the people there were mad because the Klan memebers were from a county far away from there. They felt it was bad publicity for their town because no one there really felt the way the Klan did. There were two separate anti-Klan meetings that we also shot that day. Let me just say there is nothing like the cooking from the women and men at a black southern baptist church. Yep, the anti-klan meetings were more fun. But it just shows that the fight against racism has a long road to tow.
I shot one back in Jaspser Texas about 5 years ago. The main thing you have to realize is that most of these people are back woods, hilly billies. This one in particular, the Black Panthers had a rally the same day. It was very intresting to have the two together. But for the most part, rally's from stories I've hard, are more talk than action.
Try to get there early to see if you can find any other human angles besides the violence. Is the rally going to be on Juneteenth? I covered a KKK rally on Juneteenth once on Corsicana, TX. Aside from it being a loud and sometimes violent rally, this one black family that lived right across the street from the rally, was having a Juneteenth cookout in their front yard that whole day, with barbecue, corn bread and hops. The Klan didn't spoil their holiday. In retrospect, I wish I'd arrived earlier that day, I might have done my piece in such a way as to personalize them.