The central Tennessee cities of Shelbyville and Murfreesboro are preparing for demonstrations Saturday by white-nationalist groups. Many fear the rallies could turn violent like the August demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.
Authorities in Tennessee are preparing for “White Lives Matter” rallies scheduled Saturday in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, both south of Nashville. A range of avowed white-nationalist groups plan to descend on the cities, and many fear the rallies could turn violent like the demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., in August, reports The Trace. In preparation, Shelbyville (pop. 26,000) announced Wednesday evening that it would implement extensive security measures for the event there, which lacks a permit. Attendees will have to enter a designated protest area through checkpoints. Police will screen them for prohibited items, including guns, masks, bottles, torches and laser pointers.
Murfreesboro (pop. 132,000) announced similar precautions for its rally, which does have a permit. Mayor Shane McFarland condemned the demonstration. Mike Browning, a spokesman for the Murfreesboro police, said, “We’ll have sufficient security to prevent weapons from getting into the safe zone,” but declined to offer specifics. To ban guns from the rallies, Shelbyville and Murfreesboro officials had to go further than issuing a public notice. State law requires municipalities in Tennessee to set up cordons and screen with a metal detector everyone who enters the designated demonstration area. Organizers of the rallies noted that guns were banned, though they originally encouraged followers to familiarize themselves with local firearms law and to come equipped with helmets and shields in anticipation of any possible fighting. An updated event page later eliminated mention of firearms law and helmets or shields.