White nationalists groups that rallied Saturday in Shelbyville, Tennessee, were met by a large police presence and dozens of shouting counterprotesters. Hours later, a second rally planned in nearby Murfreesboro was canceled.
The demonstrations, which organizers called the “White Lives Matter” rally, were planned by The League of the South, a Southern nationalist group, according to Brad Griffin, the organization’s public relations chief. Other extreme-right and neo-Nazi groups joined them in the protests wearing black and bearing helmets and shields.
The groups had planned to start at Shelbyville and then head to Murfreesboro about 20 miles to the north, but the Murfreesboro rally was canceled, Griffin said.
About 800 to 1,000 counterprotesters had gathered in Murfreesboro to oppose the demonstrations, Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh and Murfreesboro Interim Police Chief Michael Bowen said in a joint statement.
Griffin announced the rally was canceled on Twitter saying that Murfreesboro was a “lawsuit trap” and that holding an event there was not worth the risk.
In both cities, police set up barricades to separate the two factions on opposite sides of the road. City leaders in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro had advised people to avoid the rally areas, and the area surrounding the Shelbyville event was nearly deserted.
The rallies were expected to be the largest of their kind since the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Griffin said. That demonstration became a scene of chaos and violence as the white nationalist groups fought with counterprotesters.
One woman was killed when a Nazi sympathizer drove into a crowd of counterprotesters.
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SOURCE: CNN, Eric Levenson