Judge: Black church rightful owner of KKK store

January 3, 2012 - 12:45 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — After a lengthy legal battle between a black South Carolina church and members of the Ku Klux Klan, a judge says the church owns a building where KKK robes and T-shirts are sold.

The judge last month ruled that New Beginnings Baptist Church is the rightful owner of the building that houses the Redneck Shop, and ordered the shop's proprietor to pay the church's legal bills.

New Beginnings sued John Howard and others in 2008, saying the property was transferred to the church in 1997 by a Klansman fighting with others inside the hate group.

Howard, formerly KKK grand dragon for the Carolinas, runs the store in Laurens, about 70 miles northwest from Columbia. There was no answer at the store Tuesday. Howard's attorney did not immediately return a message.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP