Hundreds of “White Lives Matter” demonstrators are rallying through the downtown streets of Murfreesboro, Tennessee on Saturday. The rally started at 1 p.m. local time and many of the demonstrators have been met by hundreds of counter protesters.
Prior to the rally in Murfreesboro, other demonstrators congregated in Shelbyville, about 40 minutes south. Many of those at that rally were expected to drive north to attend the Murfreesboro rally, which is taking place at the Downtown Square.
Watch a live stream of the Murfreesboro rally at the top of the page. Check below for other streams from the scene.
According to The Tennessean, members from the League of the South, the Traditionalist Worker Party, Vanguard America and other groups affiliated with the National Socialist Movement are expected to be in attendance.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the League of the South as a “neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by European Americans.” It refers to the other groups as being groups that encourage white nationalism and white supremacism.
Some of the groups associated with Saturday’s rally are the same that took part in the Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. The demonstrations turned violent, and one person was killed when a vehicle driven by James Alex Fields hit dozens of counter protesters who were in the street.
In response to the “White Lives Matter” rallies, there are also counter-protests planned. The anti-Facist protesters Antifa are expected to hold demonstrations together with faith leaders and community organizers near the White Lives Matter rally.
One event planned on Facebook titled, “Stop the nazi and kkk supremacene Oct 28th in Shelbyville!” says that over 1,000 people are “interested” in attending. The event description says it’s the community’s “obligation” to “mock, ridicule and laugh” the White Lives Matter protesters out of town.
Hey there are no brothers or sisters under those hoods, those are white people saying they are there to protect white people which makes them the white communities responsibility to deal with. So white folks (or shade therein) yall come! Others are welcome but these pointy headed fools are our problem and we all have an obligation to come mock, ridicule and laugh them off the streets with a resounding, “Ya’ll are not welcome, you do not defend or in any way respresent me or my community.”
Officials in Murfreesboro not that the dueling protest may have the potential to turn violent, so many precautions were taken prior to the start time.
The White Lives Matter rallies have been denounced by many city officials, including Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland. His office issued a statement three days ahead of the scheduled rally, saying he was “deeply saddened that any group can come in and create chaos and fear in our city.”
Read his full statement below:
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters Friday that white supremacists “are not welcome” in his state and vowed to take action if things turn violent.
“We want to send a really clear message that these folks are not welcome in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “If you’re part of the white supremacist movement you’re not somebody that we want in Tennessee.”
Haslam has placed the National Guard, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on notice, making sure they’re ready to go if needed.
A blog post from rally organizers announcing the event criticized President Donald Trump for not speaking about the Nashville church shooting that took place last month, where a 25-year-old who immigrated from Sudan opened fire on church members at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, killing one person and injuring seven.
Event organizers have also cited the changing demographics in the area as the reason Murfreesboro was scouted as a possible location. Middle Tennessee has been the site of many refugees and other immigrants resettling, with the Department of State reporting that 18,000 of them have arrived in Tennessee throughout the last 15 years.
To learn more about the protests, click below: