White nationalists and neo-Nazis stage ‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

About 300 white nationalists and neo-Nazis took to the streets of the small Tennessee city of Shelbyville on Saturday to protest refugee resettlement in the state, which sued the federal government over the issue earlier this year.

The “White Lives Matter” rally, organized by some of the same groups involved in a Virginia march in August that turned violent, drew an equal number of counter-demonstrators and a heavy police presence.

After Shelbyville, the protesters were due to travel about 35 miles north to Murfreesboro for a second rally.

The two cities are just southeast of Nashville, whose metropolitan area has become home to refugees from Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere.

The day’s protests were organized by the Nationalist Front, a coalition including the League of the South and Vanguard America, considered neo-Nazi or neo-Confederate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

“We don’t want the federal government to keep dumping all these refugees into middle Tennessee,” said Brad Griffin, a League of the South member who has written about his desire to create a white “ethnostate.”

To help keep the peace, Shelbyville police used temporary fencing to separate the white nationalists from counter-demonstrators in a central protest area. Anyone seeking to enter the area was searched. Guns, sticks, backpacks and items that might double as weapons were banned.

The white nationalist demonstrators gathered behind a half dozen white shields emblazoned with red crosses. Counter-protesters carried signs with slogans including “Don’t Hate” and “Veterans for Peace.” (Reuters)

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‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

People participate in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter-protesters demonstrate against a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said state and local law enforcement officials would be out “in full force” for the two white nationalist rallies. The event billed as a “White Lives Matter” rally is hosted by Nationalist Front, which is a coalition of several white supremacist organizations. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

People participate in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Krystal Dunnaway of Nashville hugs an officer after a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

A member of a group called the National Socialist Movement participates in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

An anti-fascist demonstrator, also known as Antifa, taunts participants as they arrive for a white nationalist’s rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

People participate in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter-demonstrators taunt a small group of white nationalist protestors before the start of a rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

“White Lives Matters” protester Keith Fuller stands below a Confederate Soldier monument while looking across at counter protesters during a rally in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter-demonstrators taunt a small group of white nationalist protestors before the start of a rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

White nationalists and neo-Nazis stage ‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Police look onto the crowds during a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter-protestors demonstrate during a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

White nationalists and neo-Nazis stage ‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

A member of a group called the Traditionalist Worker Party participates in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

A person thought to be an infiltrator is held by people participating in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter-protestors demonstrate during a “White Lives Matter” rally on October 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

A member of the National Socialist Movement holds a shield and a microphone stand before a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Oct. 27, 2017. (Photo: Emily Molli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter-protestors demonstrate during a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

White nationalist attend a rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Police stand between protestors during a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter-protestors demonstrate during a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

People gesture while participating in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

People participate in a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

A protester shouts during a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter protesters scream at “White Lives Matter” protesters during a rally in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

“White Lives Matter” protestors demonstrate during a rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Police officers form a line between protesters and counter protesters at a “White Lives Matter” rally in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

“White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Riot police stand in formation during a “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Matthew Heimbach of the Tradistionalist Workers Party speaks to participants at a white nationalist’s rally on Oct. 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tenn. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Counter protesters line the street across from a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

‘White Lives Matter’ rallies in Tennessee

Residents call on passerbys to say “Boo to Hate” in Shelbyville, Tenn., Oct. 27, 2017, a day before White nationalist groups will gather for “White Lives Matter” rallies. (Photo: Zach D. Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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