Knoxville, San Francisco, Berkeley: What to Know About This Weekend’s Alt-Right Protests
Saturday’s rally was initiated by Confederate 28, a local white supremacist group with ties to the UK-based neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The Tennessee group had recently ended a five-year hiatus, marking its return in June by protesting a gay pride parade in the state and passing out fliers in Indianapolis, according to SPLC. But it seems the revival might have been short-lived. In a statement on Wednesday to WATE, a local Tennessee news station, a spokesperson for Confederate 28 stated that the group had dissolved “due to internal issues” and no longer had a “hand in the rally.”
The rally, though, still seems set to move forward without the stewardship of Confederate 28. Knoxville police plan to close off streets in the city to form designated areas for demonstrations and officers plan to confiscate weapons, masks, and other items brought into the area that could be potentially used as weapons. Mayor Madeline Rogero noted in a statement Wednesday that Knoxville police would “maintain order and ensure everybody is free to speak their piece” and urged participants to “refrain from antagonism” during “violent times.” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett also pleaded for safety in a statement on Wednesday, “as out-of-town white supremacists and neo-Nazis head toward eastern Tennessee.” “The racism and hatred of these white supremacists and neo-Nazis don’t reflect our values, and they are not welcome here,” Burchett said.
Counterprotests: A demonstration dubbed “Knoxville Against White Supremacy!” is expected to take place on Saturday as well, though the plan is for it to begin an hour before the whtite supremacist rally. The organizer’s Facebook event pledges a nonviolent demonstration with signs. “It’s nothing like Charlottesville,” Chris Irwin, who helped organize the counterprotest, told WATE. “We’ll be clearly kept apart, but they’re going to be able to clearly hear us and it’s a chance for Knoxville to say, ‘Not in our town.’”