Words by Ime Ekpo
Midday Saturday, social media, at most, Twitter, went abrupt as the hashtag #WhiteLivesMatter took a toll on the trending list. The hashtag’s revival was caused by a rally organized by a couple of “White nationalist groups” who are in favor of closed borders and deportations. The protesters claim their reasons for protesting is for “refugee resettlement and immigration in Middle Tennessee.”
The protest took place in Tennessee towns Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, in which opponents reportedly outnumbered the “white nationalists,” and were kept apart from each other by law authorities with riot gear on. Law authorities also moderated the protests, ensuring a sense of “peace” for the communities of Shelbyville and Murfreesboro.
Counter-protesters outnumbered the “white nationalists” by nearly four times at the count of 300. They unapologetically interrupted the speeches of rally speakers with constant chants of “We will replace you”, “Black lives matter”, along with a performance of “Amazing Grace,” Beyoncé songs and a recital of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech over a PA system.
White supremacist groups, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Nationalist Front, League of the South, the Traditionalist Worker Party, the National Socialist Movement and Vanguard America, are organizers of the rallies as reported by USA Today. Demonstrators attempted to chant “White lives matter,” “Jews will not replace us” and Nazi saying “Blood and soil,” but of course, they were vocally overshadowed by counter-protesters.
On Friday, Oct. 27, the governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam made it clear that white supremacist rallies are not welcome inside of the state of Tennessee. “We want to send a really clear message that these folks are not welcome in Tennessee. If you’re part of the white supremacist movement you’re not somebody that we want in Tennessee.” Haslam tells reporters Friday in Gatlinburg via USA Today.
One of the rally’s main speakers, Matthew Heimbach, plead guilty to assaulting a Black woman at a Trump rally earlier this year in July. Another participant of the white lives matter rally was Michael Tubbs, a man who spent four years in prison post performing theft of military equipment and plotting to bomb Black and Jewish owned businesses in Jacksonville, Florida.