Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation on Friday widely condemned a planned Saturday rally by the Ku Klux Klan in Martinsville, a city of 15,000 on the state’s southern border.

The rally comes on the same day that millions of Americans will be watching Virginia Commonwealth University’s basketball team compete in the Final Four tournament.


Organized by a group called Virgil’s White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the gathering will take place in the district represented by freshman Rep. Robert HurtRobert HurtThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms Democrat defeats controversial chair of House Wall Street subpanel Republican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds MORE (R).

“Robert believes that racism has absolutely no place in our society," a spokeswoman for Hurt told The Hill. The spokeswoman also confirmed that the congressman plans to spend Saturday in Buckingham County, located on the opposite side of the district from Martinsville.

Rep. Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithOvernight Defense: Pentagon curtails more exercises over coronavirus | House passes Iran war powers measure | Rocket attack hits Iraqi base with US troops House passes measure limiting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran Abortion wars flare up in Congress MORE (R), whose district borders Martinsville to the west, defended the KKK’s constitutional right to free speech, but he condemned the rally as “an act of hatred.”

“The Constitution guarantees free speech even if we find the actions and the speech deplorable. Acts of hatred divide us, not unite us,” Griffith said.

House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorTrump taps pollster to push back on surveys showing Biden with double-digit lead Bottom Line The Democrats' strategy conundrum: a 'movement' or a coalition? MORE (R-Va.) and Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHouse chairman blasts Trump's push to reopen schools as 'dangerous' Biden-Sanders 'unity task force' rolls out platform recommendations DeVos issues new rule ordering more coronavirus relief to private schools MORE (D-Va.) were unavailable for comment because they were traveling. Both had indicated they would be attending Saturday’s Final Four match-up in Houston.

Among those lawmakers with the strongest reactions was Rep. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanTrade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program Overnight Defense: 32 dead in ISIS-claimed attack in Kabul | Trump says Taliban could 'possibly' overrun Afghan government when US leaves | House poised for Iran war powers vote next week Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel MORE (R-Va.), who told The Hill, “All men are created equal. There is no place for any type of racism or hatred in our country and I adamantly condemn any group practicing bigotry against humanity.”

A spokeswoman for Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) said he "finds the policies, opinions and actions of the Ku Klux Klan to be completely reprehensible.”

A similar note was struck by Rep. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfAfrica's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump MORE’s (R-Va.) spokesman, who said the lawmaker "is strongly opposed to the KKK.”

Among those members who declined to comment, some cited the fact that the event was being held outside their districts. Reps. Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesBottom line Selection of Sarah Makin-Acciani shows the commitment to religious liberty Too much ‘can do,’ not enough candor MORE (R-Va.) and Scott RigellEdward (Scott) Scott RigellEx-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat GOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad MORE (R-Va.) were unavailable for comment at press time due to scheduling conflicts.

Spokespersons from the offices of the state's two Democratic senators declined comment.

According to a YouTube video posted on the group’s website, plans for the rally had been in place since January. But the news seemed to come as a surprise on Capitol Hill.

The video shows a man in a white hooded costume saying that the rally will include “a cross lighting at dark,” and that “vendors will be selling white power t-shirts, flags, patches, CD’s, and all other white power items.”

The identity of the man in the hood was unclear, and phone calls and emails to the group went unanswered Friday. In a voicemail greeting, the group claims to be the most active branch of the KKK in America.

It was not immediately clear how many people were expected at the rally, but in photos from a Virginia rally held by the group last year, The Hill counted a few dozen individuals, although the group claims that many more attended than are photographed.

A spokeswoman for the Martinsville Police Department said the police force will have “adequate manpower” in place.