GOP Arkansas Senate Candidate Was Dismissed From High School Over KKK Costume

A Republican candidate running for the Arkansas Senate was dismissed from a Mississippi high school 20 years ago after he dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan costume for Halloween.

Charles Edward Beckham III, who is running in Arkansas' District 12, is alleged to have worn the KKK outfit during a Halloween event at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus in 2000.

The claims were first reported by the Arkansas Times, who spoke to five of Beckham's former classmates who saw him and two other friends in a white hood and robes while trick-or-treating.

"I just remember being petrified to the point of tears," Victoria Brown, a Black woman and former classmate of Beckham, told the Arkansas Times.

Beckham dismissed the allegations against him as "baseless and false" while "unequivocally" denouncing the KKK and all other hate groups.

"It is sad that the Democrats will do anything and say anything to try to win," he told the NorthWest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

However, the Democrat-Gazette later obtained court documents from the Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson which show Beckham was dismissed from the school after wearing a KKK outfit. The story was also corroborated by more of Beckham's former classmates in the Democrat-Gazette's report.

The records state that Beckham, who was known as "Bubba," was immediately suspended for three days after being caught by school staff in the costume. He was later dismissed entirely for misconduct, with the decision upheld by the Mississippi Board of Education.

"It is evident from the transcript that Bubba wore an outfit that resembled a robe and hood of a member of the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, Bubba admitted that he did dress as a Klansman on the evening of October 31, 2000, which was Halloween," the documents state.

"The costumes consisted of white bed sheets that were sewn into the form of robes with a patch on the chest area and pillowcases that were cut into hoods."

Beckham is said to have admitted he used "bad judgment" in choosing the costume, but denied it amounted to misconduct. He also questioned why other students who wore costumes that could be considered offensive were not punished too.

The Mississippi State Board of Education said that Beckham intended to "cause a harmful effect" on some students by wearing the KKK outfit.

"Furthermore, there was sufficient evidence to show that several students suffered emotional harm as a result of seeing Bubba wearing his Klan costume," they add.

In a statement to the Democrat-Gazette after the paper obtained the order, Beckham again described the allegations as "baseless and false," but admitted to making "mistakes" as a teenager.

"I do sincerely apologize for any angst or grievances that I have caused anyone as a minor, as that is not the man that I am today," Beckham said. "I continue to unequivocally denounce the KKK and any like minded hate groups and the rumors that I am or have ever been part of the KKK are absolutely ridiculous.

"I am a Christian, a husband to my loving wife of eight years as well as a father of two and am proud of the life that we have built in McNeil, Arkansas."

Beckham went on to graduate from Pascagoula High School before attending Mississippi State University.

Beckham has been contacted for further comment.

A photo illustration of a White supremacy Ku Klux Klan member in white robe and hood hiding his face on August 2014 in London,England. A Republican who is running for the Arkansas Senate was dismissed from a Mississippi high school for dressing up in a KKK outfit. Peter Dazeley/Getty