There's Going To Be A "White Lives Matter" Rally In Tennessee

by Sarah Beauchamp
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Nationalist Front, a collection of neo-Nazi groups from all over the country, is planning two "White Lives Matter" rallies in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Oct. 28, Mic reported. The rallies are being organized by several white nationalist groups, including the Nationalist Socialist Movement, the League of the South, and the Traditionalist Worker Party.

According to The Tennessean, Brad Griffin — described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "one of the white nationalist movement's most cogent commentators of the past decade" — claimed on his website that the rally is being held to "protest the ongoing problem of refugee resettlement in Middle Tennessee."

"It's an exciting opportunity to come together," Matthew Heimbach, the leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party told Mic, "a gathering of the clans, like the Scots would do."

These rallies follow a violent neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that left one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, dead. Heimbach told Mic's Jack Smith IV that he considered that rally a "stunning success in every regard."

Rutherford County and Murfreesboro city officials are currently determining whether the groups' request meets city and county guidelines before they approve these events. Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess told Mufreesboro's Daily News Journal:

We have to be very thoughtful about their rights and our citizens' rights here, and what we'd need to do to properly manage this [event]. We're still working together and having some serious discussions about how we should manage this. ... We'll do our very best to do the right thing.

According to the Nationalist Front's manifesto, the group is anti-capitalist, anti-finance, and anti-bourgeois, and they want to achieve a white ethno-state. "We want an independent free nation for our people," Heimbach said, "but not one that still lives under the boot heel from global capital."

Speakers at the "White Lives Matter" rallies include Vanguard America's Dillon Hopper and Jeff Schoep of the Nationalist Socialist Movement, a "blood and soil" white nationalist group that dresses as a militia. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the man who was charged with the murder of Heyer was photographed marching with Vanguard America before the Charlottesville rally.

Regarding the Nationalist Socialist Movement, the Southern Poverty Law Center writes:

Schoep's group is known for the crudeness of its propaganda, the violence it works hard to provoke, and the faux SS outfits that have caused many other neo-Nazis to deride NSM members as "Hollywood Nazis."

One of the other reasons the group is marching, aside from the refugee resettlement, is a recent shooting in which a local named Emanuel Samson allegedly opened fire at a church in Antioch, Tennessee, killing one person. The group claims ("without evidence," Mic notes) that the shooting was "retaliation for the Dylann Roof shooting in Charleston."

Confederate flags are welcome at the rallies, but not swastikas because of bad "optics." Organizers are still undecided if they'll encourage people to bring weapons, as they did in Charlottesville. The League of the South said it specifically chose Shelbyville so as to avoid liberal politicians and declarations of unlawful assembly.

"In Charlottesville, we had to deal with a Democrat governor, a Jewish mayor, a black city manager and a black police chief in a place that had proclaimed itself the 'Capitol of the Resistance,'" representatives from the League told white nationalist blogger Hunter Wallace.

But, counter-protesters are already preparing to show up. "The community needs to be ready to defend itself against white nationalists and neo-Nazis," Corey Lemley, a self-described antifa activist, told the Daily News Journal. "Fascism has no place here and we will defend the immigrant community, LGBT community, Muslim community, black community, and all communities that oppose this fascist movement."

The Tennessee Anti-Racist Network will also be present, writing on Facebook:

We have shown that we can exponentially beat their numbers when we organize as a community. And laughing and humiliating them off the streets is not so difficult! We support nonviolent protest!