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Counter-protesters outnumber League of the South rally attendees

Sunday, October 13, 2013

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Counter-protesters Saturday outnumbered rallying League of the South members 2-to-1 at a demonstration the league said was meant to raise awareness about the displacement of Southern people.

Michael Cannon of the activist group Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment said the more than 125 counter-protesters were a testament to the way most people in Rutherford County feel about the League of the South, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a racist neo-Confederate group.

“It’s important to take a stance against racist, extremist and fascist groups like the League of the South,” said Cannon, who also is a student at Middle Tennessee State University.

David Jones, Tennessee chairman for League of the South, said the group was not a white organization, but a Southern organization.

“There’s a matter of racial pride,” said Jones, who lives an hour west of Nashville in Lobelville. “It’s not racism. You have to get inside someone’s head to determine what is and what is not racism. And it’s very hard to get inside each others’ heads unless we really know each other.”

The League of the South also had its rally to show public disagreement with Somalian refugees living in the Middle Tennessee area, according to Michael Hill, president of League of the South.

“We’ve been dumped with, by the government, a bunch of refugees,” said Hill, who lives in Killen, Ala. “There’s the controversy with the (Murfreesboro) mosque, and there’s the controversy with Tyson foods (in Bedford County) hiring a lot of illegals. And we’re here to protest that, to show the people who have been here for generations of families that there’s somebody here who supports them and opposes the demographic and cultural changes that will come when you dump a completely new population into an area.”

Emily Mitchell, a first-grade teacher at David Youree Elementary School in Smyrna, said she came to counter-protest League of the South because she wanted her students to know she supported all of them.

“I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with all sorts of diverse students and families,” Mitchell said. “They’ve taught me so much more than I’ve taught them.”

She said she thought the group felt displaced because their views “are becoming more and more of a minority.”

“They assume that if they shout louder that people will still know they’re there. But we are also shouting to let people know that we’re here to be a voice for Tennesseans who don’t feel that way.”

Michael Cushman, chairman for League of the South in South Carolina, organized the rally and said the group was not against “foreigners, Iraqis or Somalis.”

“Somalis have a country and that’s Somalia. That’s their homeland. We have ours, and that’s the South,” he said. “ We’d like to see a free South.”



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