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Williams, 35, was shot and killed by police in the North Carolina city on July 2, Williams, 35, was fatally shot by police at nearby Deaverview Apartments on July 2, Williams died 10 days earlier in a police shooting. Hundreds of Ashevillians, familiar with loud protests over causes like gay rights, fracking and war, have taken to the streets to block downtown intersections and hold vigils. In a place whose liberal population prides itself on racial understanding, national trauma and local violence have collided.

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In an effort to deny charges of racism, the neo-Confederate movement produces two black proponents of the neo-Confederate movement. Edgerton speaks wistfully of the "sense of family" that bound blacks and whites under slavery. There was great "love between the African who was here in the Southland and his master," he says. Despite its poor reviews, Edgerton concludes, slavery served as an "institution of learning" for blacks. Edgerton sounds a lot like other apologists for slavery — many of whom, like him, pledge allegiance to the Confederate battle flag and the movement around it.

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But he stands out from this crowd in some ificant ways. And Edgerton is also the former president of the Asheville, N. Edgerton sees no contradictions here.

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In an interview with the Intelligence Report, he insisted that he's doing his part to "correct the lies" when he suggests that "it was better to be an African in the Southland as a slave than to be free in Africa. In a lily-white movement that most blacks find deeply offensive, Edgerton seems to feel quite at home.

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And as he dances to the tune of "Dixie" — sometimes quite literally — he helps gives the cause the appearance of legitimacy. It is a gloss that frequently racist neo-Confederate groups desperately need in order to maintain the idea that theirs is a movement that celebrates "heritage, not hate.

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The other prominent black figure on the Confederate flag rally circuit is a former militiaman who recently proclaimed: "I am hereby reing myself from the black race. Johnson, once a leading militia figure in Ohio, offers running commentary on the Confederate flag issue in his Internet publication, the Sierra Times. For his part, Edgerton manages to remain unfazed when white supremacists show their support at various flag rallies — despite an incident two years ago in which two Klansmen shot up his cousin's house.

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But Edgerton still has good things to say about the Klansmen with whom he chatted at a recent flag rally in Stone Mountain, Ga. Well, kind of. At the Stone Mountain event, Edgerton reportedly invited a white woman onto the stage after speaking and gave her a kiss.

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Not long after, that infamous kiss was being relived on AlaReb, an invitation-only Internet discussion group for neo-Confederates. He would have never been seen or heard from again. Klowning as the Klan Edgerton, meanwhile, sees himself as playing to both sides of the aisle.

He considers himself "very much a part of the NAACP," the "same old Edgerton," despite politics that have caused his former colleagues to shun him.

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We don't recognize anything that he's doing. Edgerton was suspended from the NAACP in for non-compliance with the organization's rules after his Asheville branch fell into debt.

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But even before that, Edgerton had met in a controversial luncheon with Kirk Lyons see In the Lyons Dena white supremacist lawyer who has taken to defending the neo-Confederate cause of late. At the luncheon, Edgerton, Lyons and Lyons associate Neill Payne clowned with napkins set atop their he that were meant to look like Klan hoods.

In that garb, the threesome posed for a photo that appeared in a local newspaper.

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In the black community, Alson said in an interview with the Intelligence Report, Edgerton was long seen as "a true activist standing for what is right. I've often wondered what could cause him to do such things. Both Edgerton and Johnson see the Civil War in unusual ways.

To Edgerton, the Yankees displaced his enslaved forbears from "the place of honor and dignity they earned in the South" and "took their gold. If the Yankee government is the true oppressor for these men, the neo-Confederate movement, in their view, holds the promise of freedom.

At an April flag rally in Charleston, S. Edgerton linked his presence at the rally to Martin Luther King Jr. Edgerton often describes his activism as an extension of King's work and the ongoing fight for civil rights. Knowing that few blacks would view King's legacy, civil rights or Southern history as he does, Edgerton seems motivated all the more.

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