A video circulated on social media that has been viewed more than 12.8 million times shows the woman, later identified as Kathy Jenkins, sitting in the back of a pickup truck holding a Confederate flag.
“I will teach my grandkids to hate you all,” she shouts to protesters off-camera, before standing up and draping the flag over her shoulders. “Suck on this.”
“KKK belief,” she adds, pumping her fist in the air.
The exchange took place on Sunday as Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside a Branson Dixie Outfitters store, which specializes in Confederate flags, clothing and other merchandise, in Branson. Jenkins joined the group of counter-protesters displaying Confederate flags in front of the store.
Jenkins called into KOLR 10 Ozarks First radio station to issue an apology Tuesday, explaining that she has since lost her job and left Branson after the video went viral.
“I’m so, so sorry,” Jenkins told the station. “I mean, if it would help for me to stand with Black Lives Matter, I absolutely would do that.
“I hadn’t said anything until they came into my face,” she claimed. “It’s like I blacked out. I don’t even remember saying half the stuff that I said.”
An organizer of the Black Lives Matter protest in Branson on Sunday, Faith Pittser, issued a statement to KOLR 10 that said Jenkins “knew exactly what she was doing.
“She was there from the start on the counter-protesters’ side shouting obscenities and hateful words at our protesters,” Pittser wrote. “I think her claims to not know what the Confederate flag is and what it represents are absurd and lies.”
Branson Dixie Outfitters thanked supporters on Facebook on Wednesday before blaming socialists and anarchists for coming to their store under the guise of a peaceful protest only to instigate violence.
“These socialists & antarchists [sic], that hate America, hate Christian values, came to our town, While we were closed, trying to instigate violence! Claiming to be peaceful protestors, but the part you did not see in the “media”, was anything but that!” the store wrote.
“You cannot believe the media folks! These “peaceful” protestors have burned churches, taken over police departments, dragged people from their cars, looted, destroyed towns, torn down historical statues....yet the media & weak-minded politicians STILL call them “peaceful protestors”!”
“They will not be happy, until they have taken all of the freedoms you enjoy! Until every bit of American pride and patriotism is gone!” the post continued. “Until every small town, bows down to there [sic] socialist/communist ideology! Until anything that could possibly offend them, is gone. This is not about our little T-shirt shop....this is about FREEDOM!”
Branson Mayor Edd Akers on Tuesday issued a proclamation “promoting unity and condemning hate speech,"
“I don’t think there’s a Branson-area person that is happy with this situation and the way we’re being characterized across social media,” Akers said, according to the Kansas City Star.
Members of the public attended a Board of Aldermen meeting later Tuesday to demand the city of just 11,500 people condemn Dixie Outfitters and force its removal from the store’s prominent location on the heavily trafficked 76 strip.
“I despise the KKK,” Alderman Larry Milton said after a man, who identified himself as a St. Louis teacher who vacationed in Branson, asked for each official to identify their stance on the Ku Klux Klan.
“I despise any organization that is violent and violent towards people for the simple reason of the color of their skin,” Milton continued. “I don’t believe that organization should be in the United States of America, maybe not the world. So my personal opinion is I see no room in the United States for the KKK and those that have those beliefs.”
Alderman Bob Simmons added that Branson needs to take action to support its law enforcement because “there doesn’t seem to be too many people behind the police departments across the country.
“We’re now asking them to deal with demonstrations that are possibly not going to be peaceful, possibly going to block roads, just inviting confrontation. So I would really like us to think about what we do with permits for demonstrations,” Simmons said.