"White Lives Matter" rally held in Tennessee — but they were outnumbered

Tennessee braced for potential violence at two "White Lives Matter" rallies, but the second one was later cancelled

Published October 28, 2017 4:52PM (EDT)

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" exchange insults with counter-protesters as they attempt to guard the entrance to Emancipation Park (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" exchange insults with counter-protesters as they attempt to guard the entrance to Emancipation Park (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

White supremacists, and neo-Nazis from across the country poured into Tennessee to attend a "White Lives Matter" rally on Saturday. The state braced for potential violence between the white supremacist groups and protesters who showed up to counter them, and feared the events would trigger chaos similar to what was seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, less than three months ago.

The first rally took place in Shelbyville, and was organized by the Nationalist Front, which has been described as "an umbrella group of white supremacist organizations," according to the Huffington Post.

A second rally was supposed to be held in Murfreesboro, but was eventually cancelled on Saturday afternoon. Details on why the demonstration was called off are not currently clear.

But in Shelbyville, the white supremacist protesters arrived as an entire group, and entered through two designated security checkpoints, CBS News reported. Weapons and masks had been banned from the rally, police said.


There is currently not an official count of how many supporters of the rally showed up, but it was estimated at roughly 200 people. However, their goal and message were still made abundantly clear.

"They're trying to reclaim the narrative after Charlottesville," Keegan Hankes, analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center's intelligence project, told Salon. "There is a lot of feeling in the groups that make up the alt right that they've lost control of this 'Unite the Right' narrative, so they are in their own words to 'correct' that."

Some of the white supremacist protesters used Nazi salutes and chanted "blood and soil" as well as "white lives matter." "I’m here to defend my heritage and my people against the forces of darkness," Mike Tubbs, a former Green Beret, told HuffPost. Tubbs served time in prison for "plotting to bomb black and Jewish businesses," HuffPost reported. Tubbs also participated in the violence in Charlottesville in August.

But similar to just a couple of months ago, counterprotesters turned out in droves. Police stood between the two groups, which were lined with barricades. The counterprotesters helped drown out some of the chants and played Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech over a loudspeaker.  


Despite a smaller turnout, and even the cancellation of their second event, the rise of the alt-right and white supremacy in such an overt form is not just troubling to see, but something that must be paid attention to.

"Some of their other stated motives, which you'll find in their propaganda, is opposing refugee resettlement and a shooting that happened in a church where the perpetrator allegedly cited the Dylan Roof massacre where the perpetrator said they wanted to do the reverse of," Hankes told Salon. "They claim that this has been covered up by the mainstream media."

Here are some of the most stunning images and videos that emerged on Saturday.







Matthew Rozsa contributed reporting to this story. 

By Charlie May

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