Duke's Conference goes on in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Dozens of people gathered for former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's EURO Conference at a Memphis hotel Saturday.

The conference is booked through Sunday at the Memphis Plaza Hotel on Shelby Oaks Drive near Bartlett.

Rick Russell of Bartlett was not pleased that the conference was taking place in his backyard.

"I'm a 22-year navy veteran, and I fought for our country for freedom and the ability not to hate," he said.

The hotel's owner, Shiraz Hassaneli, said he didn't know what the conference was about, and that the employee who booked the conference was told that it would be a "family meeting".

Duke tried to keep the new location under wraps after Whispering Woods Hotel and Conference Center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, canceled the conference early last week. 
Then the Drury Inn on Sycamore View in Memphis, citing concern for the safety of their guests, told Duke to leave the premises after he checked in last Thursday.

A mother who booked an events room at the Memphis Plaza Hotel weeks ago to celebrate her daughter's 16th birthday party worried that she might have cancel the event. 
"Everything planned out, invitations...and I actually called her and told her that we might have to move it, and she cried. That was hurtful because this was something we've both been looking forward to. "

A Memphis police officer confirmed that the department has increased its patrols of the area because of the conference.

Click here to e-mail Lori Brown.