A Georgia police chief accepted an award from racists and anti-immigrant extremists at an anti-immigrant protest.
Michael Hill, the president of the League of the South (LOS), an implicitly racist neo-Confederate group, gave Police Chief Lewis Smith, chief of police of Uvalda, a small town in Georgia, the LOS’s “Robert E. Lee Award.” Hill reportedly gave Smith the award because of the chief’s support of the rally and as “a small token of [their] appreciation.”
Hill, who has become increasingly radical, was one of a number of racist speakers at the rally. Other speakers at the event included leaders in LOS and Michael Cushman, who heads the Southern Nationalist Network (SNN). Attendees, who included white supremacists Brad Griffin (also known as Hunter Wallace) and Kyle Rogers of the Council of Conservative Citizens, were also protesting Uvalda Mayor Paul Bridges’ support of a lawsuit against Georgia’s harsh immigration laws.
Despite the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center informed Chief Smith of the protesters’ extremism, Smith not only participated in the event, he brought refreshments for the protesters.
In an effort to play down their extremism, participants at the protest did not openly display white supremacist symbols or even the Confederate flag. They held up a flag from the SNN, a Georgia secession flag, as well as an LOS banner. Most of the participants also followed a dress code of slacks and shirts, as requested in the event’s announcement on the LOS Facebook page.
Speakers at the event, however, expressed racist, anti-immigrant views. Cushman claimed that immigration was “an invasion of our country” and argued that it was “immoral” to replace “a unique people,” meaning Southern whites, with immigrants. Hill asserted that “demographics is destiny” and argued, “This is our land. We settled it. We built it. And we own it. It’s ours.”
In addition, participants held handmade signs that read, “Mayor Bridges wants to replace us,” and “It’s wrong to replace us.” After the rally in Uvalda, the participants continued their protest in nearby Vidalia.