White nationalists have planned marches in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Saturday to protest refugee resettlement in their state, highlighting last month's lethal church shooting in Antioch, Tennessee, by a Sudanese suspect. The "White Lives Matter" events are organized by some of the same groups involved in the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this year, where an anti-racist demonstrator, Heather Heyer, was killed when a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd.
A group of 172 Tennessee clergy issued a statement condemning Saturday's marches before they began. "These organizations are founded on the principles of white ethnonationalism," the statement says. "Our faiths call us to build bridges across racial and ethnic divides, not to dig deeper trenches. We stand as neighbors and as people of faith to proclaim that we are stronger as a community of love, faith, and peace."
Counter-protests are expected, and local law enforcement as well as demonstrators on both sides say they hope to avoid violence. "There is a threat level that didn't exist before," mused Brad Griffin, a "White Lives Matter" organizer. "It used to be just us and these peaceful liberals out there yelling at each other." Griffin told The Washington Post he urged Saturday's attendees to leave their guns at home. "Come to the White Lives Matter rallies to make a good impression," he wrote in a blog post promoting the event.