Two white nationalist groups, Vanguard America and The League of the South, organized "White Lives Matter" rallies in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Saturday in order to "protest refugee resettlement in the state," according to the New York Post.
The first rally took place in Shelbyville. Although it’s difficult to get an exact count, multiple news outlets place the number of white nationalist protesters somewhere between 200 and 300.
However, The Tennessean reports that there were as many as 400 counter-protesters.
The protesters and counter-protesters were separated by metal barricades set up by the police. As League of the South president Michael Hill gave a speech to rally attendees, counter-protesters blasted music, including songs by Bob Marley.
Counter-protesters also played Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech on loudspeakers as rally-goers chanted "blood and soil."
According to ABC News, Hill yelled: "When we say blood and soil we mean our nation...Our nation is our people. Our skin is our uniform."
WKRN reports that John Gill Anderson, a counter-protester, "was on the white supremacist side of the protest when he was allegedly attacked and tried to defend himself." He was taken into custody by authorities, and "cited for disorderly conduct."
As the protest wound down, a second protest was beginning in Murfreesboro, a city just 26 miles from Shelbyville.
The Tennessean reports that although the counter-protesters arrived in Murfreesboro before the white nationalists, by about 2:30 p.m., "about 15 white nationalists" had shown up. Despite the small number of rally attendees, "both sides [were] screaming and chanting at one another..."
There were allegedly as many as 1,000 counter-protesters in Murfreesboro.
According to The Tennessean, by 3:20 p.m., it was announced that the Murfreesboro rally had been cancelled. Protesters and counter-protesters dissipated shortly thereafter.
Hunter Wallace, public relations chief for the League of the South, claimed on social media that the security in Shelbyville caused a significant delay, and that the group had "nothing to gain" by going to Murfreesboro.
This wasn’t quite the end of things, as News Channel 5 reports:
... shortly after the rally was canceled downtown, reports were received that some protesters had planned to head to the park. Just before 4 p.m. officials announced they would be shutting the park down and had asked everyone to leave in order to prevent any possible violence.
Not long after, authorities gathered at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill where there were additional reports of protesters gathering following the cancellation in Murfreesboro. However, they stated they were on the scene to keep things safe, but there was no threat.
As of publication, there have been no further arrests or disruptions reported.