CHEROKEE COUNTY, GEORGIA – Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said he has no affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, despite old photos that surfaced showing him wearing a robe and hood.
He wore the costume to a Halloween party around 25 years ago, long before he took office.
“I don’t deny it wasn’t stupid, looking back now, but there again I say what 21- or 22-year-old in this world hasn’t made some stupid mistakes?” Garrison told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer, who obtained the photos from a source who wished to remain anonymous.
Garrison is up for re-election this year, and is facing primary opposition next month.
“It’s purely political,” he said, “This is just the lowest of the low to infer whatever they’re attempting to infer there.”
Garrison said he and a friend were dressed as characters from a scene in the movie “Blazing Saddles” and that he has never espoused any of the KKK’s beliefs.
“I don’t think anyone who knows me is going to think anything of this, but it’s just sickening and it hurts my family,” said Garrison.
Garrison’s opponent, David Waters, said someone showed him the photos a year ago, but he chose to ignore them and focus on his own campaign.
“It is a bad judgment call, and (that) type of clothing represents hate, and I certainly don’t want any part of that,” said Waters.
Waters was not the source who provided the photos to Channel 2 Action News.
By phone, Fleischer reached one person who attended the party back in the 1980s, and said many of the guests were surprised to see Garrison dressed in that costume.
“I think the suit represents harm regardless of how it’s displayed. It’s a statement that the suit makes and to call that a joke, I don’t think a lot of people would laugh,” said Waters.
Garrison told Fleischer he’s hoping voters will pay more attention to his record as sheriff during the last two decades than a photo that’s even older than that.
“Everybody knows everything about my life. I would just ask that they look at my honor and my integrity and the things we’ve done for this sheriff’s office,” said Garrison.