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Resistance to a White Lives Matter Rally in Tennessee Led to the Cancellation of a Second Rally

A White Lives Matter rally occurred in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Saturday, attracting white supremacists, neo-Nazis and fascists before counterprotesters’ heavy presence forced organizers to cancel a second rally later in the day. HuffPost says that the cancelled rally was planned to take place in the college town Murfreesboro.

An umbrella group of white supremacist groups known as the Nationalist Front gathered in Shelbyville alongside police and about 200 counterprotesters. Groups within the Front included the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Worker Party and the Anti-Commuist Action, stating a mission to “turn the page on Charlottesville.” The protesters were reportedly led by former Green Beret Mike Tubbs, who was once imprisoned for planning to bomb black and Jewish businesses. Speaking to HuffPost, Tubbs said, “I’m here to defend my heritage and my people against the forces of darkness.”

According to The Chicago Tribune, rally participants and counterprotesters were separated by police barricades and were on opposite sides of the street with police in between. Although Shelbyville residents have actively opposed the rally for two weeks, rally participants continued with their plans to speak to their group before continuing to Murfreesboro for the second rally. 

The Tribune says that counterprotesters, primarily from the group Shelbyville LOVES, teased white supremacists and played music such as Michael Jackson’s “Black or White.” The opposing forces continued to pick at each other until 1 p.m., at which ralliers boarded a bus to go to Murfreesboro. However, a tweet from organizer Brad Griffin, who leads the white nationalist group League of the South and writes under the name Hunter Wallance, revealed that protesting in Murfreesboro reportedly could end badly for the ralliers, resulting in the second rally’s cancellation. 

Before the cancellation, Murfreesboro businesses boarded up their windows in preparation for the rally, while the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was even expected to cancel religious services for the day.

“It was an effective show of force,” counterprotester Kubby Barry told The Tribune. “It was important to show up and show people that we don’t stand for their message.” 

If there’s anything that the second rally’s cancellation teaches us, it’s that people simply won’t allow for this hate to manifest. 

Kristen Perrone is a Siena College Class of 2018 alumna. She studied English during her time at Siena.