The white supremacist Nationalist Front will hold a series of “White Lives Matter” protests at various points in Tennessee on Saturday, October 28, 2017. The events will begin at 10am EST and culminate in a private social event that evening. With an expected attendance of around 200 people, this could be the largest gathering of white supremacists since Unite the Right in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The morning protests will be held in Shelbyville, and will resume later in the afternoon in Murfreesboro. The group may also stage a “flash” protest in Antioch, likely near the Emanuel Samson church, the site of a recent shooting allegedly perpetrated by a Sudanese immigrant.
According to group leaders’ posts to social media, the protests are meant to call attention to the “ongoing problem of refugee resettlement in Middle Tennessee,” with a special emphasis on the Emanuel Samson church shooting. Organizers also plan to protest the Trump administration’s recent decision to remove Sudan from the list of countries included in the travel ban, its failure to build a border wall with Mexico and for its apparent willingness to work with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on a new version of the DREAM Act.
ADL expects the events of October 28th to be similar to – but considerably larger than -- the Nationalist Front’s rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, earlier this year. While the Pikeville event drew an estimated 100 to 125 participants, Saturday’s rally could attract more than 200 people.
The Nationalist Front is an umbrella organization that consists of neo-Nazis, traditional white supremacists, and, to a lesser degree, racist skinheads. The bulk of the attendees for the rally appear to be associated with the League of the South, Traditionalist Worker Party, National Socialist Movement, or Vanguard America (VA). Several small Klan groups have also indicated they will attend, along with various, unaffiliated White Lives Matter activists.
The leaders of the four largest groups under the Nationalist Front banner are scheduled to speak:
• Matthew Heimbach of Paoli, Indiana, is the head of the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP). Founded in 2015, the TWP has approximately 75 members, mostly from the Midwest and Appalachian Highland regions of the United States. TWP has grown significantly this year and will likely show a larger presence on October 28 than it did at the Pikeville rally.
• Michael Hill of Killen, Alabama, is the leader of the League of the South (LoS), a white supremacist group which advocates for southern secession. Over the past few years, LoS has become more radical and more openly racist. While this new direction cost the group some support, LoS maintains a core membership of around 50 people who consistently show up for white supremacist rallies and protests around the country. LoS members tend to be older residents of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and the Carolinas.
• Dillon Hopper (aka Dillon Irizarry), a Marine Corps veteran from New Mexico, has been leading Vanguard America since early 2016. In recent months, the alt-right VA has increasingly embraced neo-Nazi ideology. It is unlikely that VA will make a significant appearance at the Tennessee event after losing substantial membership to a splinter group, Patriot Front.
• Jeff Schoep of Detroit, Michigan, has been the leader of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) since 1994. The NSM openly and consistently promotes virulently anti-Semitic and racist ideology at rallies around the country. The NSM, the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States, has struggled to remain relevant in recent years, but has survived by collaborating with Klan and other white supremacist groups to form alliances, including the Nationalist Front.
Additional scheduled speakers:
• Mike Peinovich (aka Mike Enoch), of New Jersey, is the founder of The Right Stuff (TRS), a racist and anti-Semitic website and well-known voice of the alt right. Peinovich, who frequently appears at events alongside alt right leader Richard Spencer, hosts a TRS podcast called "The Daily Shoah” which promotes anti-Semitic commentary. Peinovich spoke at the May “defense of Confederate monuments” protest in Charlottesville and attended April’s Nationalist Front rally in Pikeville, Kentucky.
• Sacco Vandal (formerly Scott Wurgler), of Ohio, hosts “War Room” an alt right internet radio show, and created the website Vandal Void with his twin brother, Vanzetti Vandal (formerly Matthew Wurgler). The brothers’ website and book, The American Militant Manifesto, promote white supremacist militant nationalism. At April’s white supremacist rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, Sacco said, “America is for the white man.”
• Harry L. Hughes, a neo-Nazi based in Maricopa, Arizona, is a well-known anti-immigrant extremist and white supremacist in Arizona. Hughes is a long-time member of the National Socialist Movement who routinely conducts armed patrols along Arizona’s border with Mexico. Hughes was an associate of J.T. Ready, the white supremacist leader of the U.S. Border Guard, a border vigilante group. Ready killed four people before shooting himself in 2012.
• Brian Culpepper, a neo-Nazi from Tennessee, is a longtime member of the National Socialist Movement, and has been the NSM public relations officer for a number of years.