Washington (AFP) - Members of the Ku Klux Klan are planning a protest in support of the Confederate flag outside South Carolina's state legislature, organizers said Tuesday.
Local news media in the Southern state said the Klan has obtained a permit for a rally of 100 to 200 people on the State House grounds in Columbia on July 18.
That is one month and a day after the murder of nine black worshippers by a young white supremacist at an historic African-American church in Charleston.
The massacre reignited demands for the state to take down a Confederate battle flag that has flown alongside a Confederate war memorial at the State House for the past 15 years.
"We will be standing up for our Confederate history and all the Southerners who fought and died against federal tyranny," said a recording at the telephone number of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Pelham, North Carolina.
The message went on to accuse government officials of attempting "to erase white culture and our heritage right out of the history books."
South Carolina's Republican Governor Nikky Haley has come out in favor of lowering the flag, which by law would require a vote by the state legislature.
She told the Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston that she did not endorse the Klan's planned rally, which follows a series of protests against the flag.
Many regard the Civil War saltire -- which has been adopted by extremists groups -- as a symbol of hate, racism and white supremacy.
The flag has already come down outside the Alabama state legislature, while several major retailers have said they will no longer stock the banner.