OD is recovering in Missouri after a long weekend on the road spreading the message of Southern Nationalism in Tennessee.
The League of the South’s Murfreesboro and Shelbyville protests went off much better than expected. Going into our second event, we had 75 people who said they were coming on Facebook. The “Tennessee Anti-Racist Coalition” counter protesters had 145 people on Facebook who said they were coming to oppose us.
In Murfreesboro, we had roughly 75 people show up on our side and the opposition had a similar number of people turnout on their side. The Tennessean quotes Mike Cannon, an opposition organizer, who said that there were 125 counter protesters who outnumbered us “2-to-1,” but this is an exaggeration that is nowhere close to being true. There were 16 of them on the street across from us and three or four dozen of them at most congregating in their group down the sidewalk from us.
As in Uvalda and Vidalia, we have the Murfreesboro counter protesters on video and will spend the rest of the week posting clips on YouTube. We went into Murfreesboro genuinely concerned that we would be outnumbered 2-to-1 by the counter protesters, but we turned out our own people whereas only 1/3 to 1/2 of their supporters who had said they were coming on Facebook bothered to show up.
Daryl Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project was scheduled to come, but we didn’t see him anywhere in Tennessee, and yet OPP claims we were “overwhelmed” by people who weren’t even there:
The counter protesters used homemade signs that looked ridiculous and were mostly unreadable to traffic. We had a black guy who was using a sign that read “Evil Nazis Go Away” come up to us and tell us that he admired our signs. When our Murfreesboro demonstration permit expired at 12 PM, we packed our things and departed for lunch as scheduled, at which point the counter protesters bravely came over to declare victory and “reclaim” our spot on the sidewalk.
The Tennessee Anti-Racist Coalition spent most of their time screaming about Neo-Nazis, the Klan, and skinheads, but there was only one skinhead at our protest:
After we finished in Murfreesboro, around 35 to 45 of us traveled to Shelbyville and ate at a BBQ restaurant. In Shelbyville, we were met by a single counter protester – a black guy wearing a “Color Me Human” t-shirt – who walked around aimlessly for a few minutes before leaving the scene. A carload of the counter protesters from Murfreesboro later drove by us and screamed “your parents are brainwashing you,” but this was the only sign of their presence and they didn’t stop to engage us in Shelbyville.
We spent about two hours handing out literature unopposed at our event in Shelbyville. It didn’t take long for us to find out that we had more supporters in Shelbyville than in either Uvalda and Vidalia or Murfreesboro. Far from being run out of Tennessee, we left with the impression that both protests had gone off much better than expected.
In Murfreesboro, which is a city of 108,755 people, the sixth largest city in Tennessee, we only ran into 50 to 75 counter protesters, a motley crew assembled from a coalition of several leftwing fringe groups like Occupy Nashville, Solidarity US, the Radical Sparkle Coalition, the Nashville Radical Faerie Circle, the Tennessee Transgender Coalition, Chattanooga Organized for Action and others.
In Shelbyville, which is a city of 20,105, we only ran into one counter protester. In Vidalia, GA, which is a city of 10,491 people, there were no counter protesters. If the goal of the opposition was to run us out of Tennessee, they failed miserably on that score because now we know from experience that we aren’t going to encounter much resistance, even in a huge city full of transplants in Metro Nashville.
In Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, we turned out supporters on the ground at our first demonstration in the state from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. As the League grows stronger again, Tennessee’s central location in the South will make it an important gathering place for future protests.
This was only our second protest and we are gaining experience at doing this. In Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, we had a paid advertisement in the Rutherford Reader and a billboard on I-24, whereas we had neither in Uvalda and Vidalia. We had custom made signs that were much easier to read than the illegible homemade signs of our opposition. We handed out fliers in advance of our arrival. Finally, we turned out about 75 people which is a big increase from the 40 to 50 people who joined us in Georgia.
In Tennessee, I got sunburned again, got a splinter in my finger, and briefly lost my wallet before it was returned by someone who found it, but otherwise, we didn’t run into any problems. The real obstacles to organizing these protests are things like family commitments, having to take off work well in advance, the expenses involved in traveling great distances, and a hostile media that wants to silence us.
From the beginning to the end of organizing this event, the actual opposition we faced in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, whether it was in the form of the SPLC, the Tennessee Anti-Racist Coalition, the hotels that cancelled our reservations, or hostile editorials in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, The Tennessean, and the Daily News Journal, was less of a problem for us than the self-inflicted wounds over the use of the Confederate Battle Flag and Matt Heimbach linking up with the NSM.
As we move forward to our next protest in December, we are coming out of Middle Tennessee as a stronger and more cohesive group which is gaining experience with public activism. We have settled on who we want to be, what we want to do, and what image we want to project to the Southern public.
The only question for us now is where we are going next.
Note: Don’t miss SNN’s coverage of Murfreesboro and Shelbyville.