MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- An organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center faced off in downtown Murfreesboro against counter-protesters on Saturday.
The League of the South and the Southern Nationalist Network received a permit from the city to demonstrate at the corner of Broad and Vine. The League billed the event as a demonstration against what it refers to as “Demographic Displacement.”
Standing amongst 50 or so of his supporters, League of the South President Michael Hill told WMOT News that the group’s purpose was to “Protest the dumping of mainly Muslim immigrants in Middle Tennessee, and to show the people of Middle Tennessee who are natives that they’ve got someone who’s willing to stand up on this issue against the government.”
A counter-demonstration was organized by the Tennessee Anti-Racist Network. The two groups had a roughly equal number of supporters as the demonstration began, but a reporter with the Tennessean later estimated that the number of counter-demonstrators eventually grew to more than 120.
Network supporter Elizabeth Sharp commented, “It’s 2013. The notion that white people are being replaced, especially in the South, is just absurd. We really want to send a message that Murfreesboro stands for diversity and we welcome everybody here.”
A half-dozen or so Murfreesboro police officers were on hand and stood between the two groups. At one point officers tried to move the counter protesters to the opposite side of Broad to separate the two groups further, but most refused to budge. The opposing protesters occasionally shouted slogans at each other, but the event remained peaceful.
The League of the South is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC describes the League as a “neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by ‘European Americans.’”
The League of the South planned to hold a similar protest in Shelbyville Saturday afternoon.