More counter-protesters at rally than protesters

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
In this Associated Press photo, Lewisburg Police Chief David Henley mans the front lines at Saturday’s demonstrations in Shelbyville, separating the protestors, The strong response from law enforcement is widely credited with keeping the event from repeating the violent scenes at a similar rally earlier this year in Charlottesville, Va.

Local law enforcement’s plans for controlling the White Lives Matter rally in Shelbyville Saturday worked out. During the rally, protesters and counter-protesters shouted epithets, sometimes obscenities, at one another but they were kept apart and none of the arguments had a chance to come to blows.

One person who apparently started to act out on the League of the South side of the street was quickly subdued by a police in riot gear and hustled away in custody.

Counter-protesters parked at Thomas Magnet and approached the protest site from the north. League of the South protesters and their allies were herded in through cattle-chute-like barricades from the south.

Both sides were subjected to two stops for screening.

There were some discrepencies about what items were prohibited. On the north side one counter-protester was at first turned away when he tried to enter carrying a megaphone. Police were concerned that it could be used to bludgeon someone. A few minutes later they’d changed their tune and he was allowed to bring it in.

A newspaper journalist entering on the south side (the white supremacist side) was not allowed to bring his ink pens in.

The first helicopter in the air over the incident was from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department. Three other helicopters arrived a little later.

Two drones were used to monitor the crowds often hovering at face height just a few feet from the counter- protesters.

Chris Irwin, a defense attorney from Knoxville, came equipped with a more than adequate public address system, powered by a gasoline generator carried in by Kirk Bratten with the Tennessee Anitracist Network.

Irwin said he’s been to 20 such rallies and he claimed victory at a Knoxville rally where he said they ran the white supremacists off. “In the marketplace of ideas they are unequipped,” he said. Over his PA Irwin at times played the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. At other times he played reggae music.

The White Lives Matter protesters arrived late on the protest site. For nearly a half hour just a half dozen of the white supremacists were faced off against 350 or so counter-protesters while they waited for their comrades to get through the weapons screening process.

Police had been told to expect several thousand counter-protesters with the violent group called Antifa. But only a few people were dressed all in black with bandannas covering much of their face, the uniform of Antifa. Most of the counter- protesters conducted their protest in a festive, party-like spirit.

For a while, Irwin shouted at the nearly empty other side of the street, calling them Nazis.

Some protesters on both sides of Lane Parkway came in costumes. The costumes on the counter-protest side of the street, however, were more diverse. There was Lady Liberty (aka Michelle Armstrong) and clowns, Jennifer Samardak and Tina. Tina didn’t want to give her last name. Tina said they dressed as clowns to “show how stupid” the white supremacists’ messages are.

One woman shouted that she hoped the white supremacists would suffer in the cold. “I hope you freeze your bald heads,” she shouted.

A young woman dressed as a witch, she would only give her first name, Hella, carried a sign that said “A hex upon your hate.”

Once the white supremacists finally got into place, the counter-protesters kept up a steady stream of chants to drown their opponents out. The white supremacists tried to take the high ground but the words in their speeches belied their repeated statements that they actually share the same concerns as their opponents. “Your day is coming,” shouted Micheal Hill, president of the League of the South. “Our skin is our uniform.”

“You’ll be the first in the gulag,” shouted another. “Commie scum, your time will come.”

“Go smoke pot and kill yourselves you communist faggots,” said another of the speakers.