White supremacists held their “White Lives Matter” rally on Saturday, but things didn’t seem to go how they likely anticipated. Instead, The Washington Post reports a slow-moving gathering that started about an hour behind scheduled time. While 300 people attended in total, only 100 were “White Lives Matter” attendees; the other 200 were reportedly counterprotesters.
As CASSIUS previously shared, the initial plan was for a rally to be held in Shelbyville before the group headed to another rally nearby in Murfreesboro. However, those plans were cancelled after attendance fell short.
While the rallies were first vaguely described as “an exciting opportunity to come together” by Matthew Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, it was also speculated that they were a response to Emanuel Samson allegedly opening fire at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ near Nashville and killing one in September, with the belief that Samson’s actions were in “retaliation for the Dylann Roof shooting in Charleston.”
According to The Washington Post, rally organizers—which included the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Worker Party, Anti-Communist Action, and Vanguard America—”was specifically about immigration and refugee policies.” But speeches delivered by various “orators” took a turn when focus was diverted to the importance of preserving “white Southern culture,” “the white race,” and outrage toward Black History Month.“What about me?” speakers asked. “Me and my children have a right to exist. . .White lives matter!” Shortly after the Shelbyville rally, a group of white supremacists dressed in black reportedly traveled to a restaurant in Brentwood, a nearby town, and allegedly attacked an interracial couple.
Counterprotesters remained strong as they stood in opposition.
“We don’t want these people here, trying to recruit our neighbors to this disgusting cause,” David Clark, co-organizer of Shelbyville LOVES, the main counterprotest group. “It was important to show up and show people that we don’t stand for their message,” Kubby Barry, who reportedly traveled from DeKalb County, said.