By Joanne Kim
Protesters from a “White Lives Matter” rally attacked an interracial couple on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 28, at Corner Pub in Brentwood, Tennessee, according to The Washington Post. A brawl broke out in a suburban bar following the second unsuccessful ‘White Lives Matter’ rally.
The protesters did not show up for a second planned rally in Murfreesboro, after they were outnumbered by counter-protesters in the first rally in Shelbyville, The Washington Post reported.
That same Saturday evening, a group of 20 to 30 white nationalists entered the Corner Pub Brentwood and started verbally and physically assaulting a biracial couple while they were eating dinner, according to The Tennessean. Police said calls poured in soon around 9:15 p.m. once the harassment escalated into a brawl.
Annelise Werme was a bar patron that witnessed the events. Werme had went to Brentwood to escape the rally in Murfreesboro, when white nationalists entered the same establishment as her sometime before 10:15 p.m., according to her post on Facebook.
Werme uploaded a video to Facebook of the brawl after it had escalated out onto the streets.
“It broke out into a huge fight with them busting open the face of the white girl who was furious with them for harassing them,” Werme said on Facebook. “I honestly can’t believe this is happening. My heart hurts. I’m shaking and trying not to cry.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 31, Ku Klux Klan members joined another White Lives Matter rally in Shelbyville, USA Today reported.
Among the white nationalists, there’s a split over support from the Klu Klux Klan. Brad Griffin, a League of the South member, felt having members of the Ku Klux Klan was “too much,” USA Today reported.
“I didn’t want to start a scene with the KKK in Shelbyville. The whole point of this was to do something peaceful,” Griffin said, according to USA Today.
Members of the National Socialist Movement with “SS” bolt patches and swastika tattoos also attended the rally, USA Today reported.
Nathan Damigo, the founder of Identity Evropa, an alt-right white nationalist group, according to USA Today, believed the white nationalist symbols and tactics hurt their cause more than helped it.
“Today’s #WhiteLivesMatter protest was cringe. Self indulgent extremism is pure anti-propaganda. It’s unmarketable and a serious dead end,” Damigo tweeted.
Many white nationalists want to forgo the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi imagery in an effort to better appeal to the masses.
“This is what the infighting is about,” said Marilyn Mayo, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, according to USA Today. “It’s about the people on one side who embrace National Socialism, who embrace the Klan, who embrace symbols of extremism, and those on the other side who really want to show a sort of suit-and-tie or khaki-and-polo-shirt version of the extremist movement.”