SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The city of Shelbyville said it’s been assessing and preparing safety measures for a planned white nationalist rally and possible counter protests taking place later this month.
The statement comes as several groups with nationalist and pro-white agendas—including the Nationalist Front, National Socialist Movement, and League of the South—announced plans for a rally in Shelbyville on Oct. 28. Their focus is on the recent Antioch church shooting, illegal immigration, and refugee settlement in Middle Tennessee.
MORE: Antioch church shooting
That news then prompted other groups to plan counter protests to push back against their message of white supremacy.
City officials say they received notice last week from the League of the South about their planned sidewalk rally, which will be held from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the intersection of N. Cannon Blvd. and Lane Parkway.
“Such a gathering does not require a permit from the city of Shelbyville, nor any official approval from the city administration or the City Council,” a press release states.
Shelbyville says they’re aware of groups preparing to counter protest but has not received any official contact from any group involved.
The city says it and the police department are taking steps to ensure the public’s safety “given the recent incidents in our country,” adding they have a responsibility to protect free speech rights and those who wish to express them.
Officials go on to say they are “taking very seriously multiple concerns regarding the safety of expected protesters, counter protesters, the public, and the protection of public and private property from damage.”
Shelbyville plans to secure and designate separate areas at the intersection of N. Cannon Blvd. and Lane Parkway for both the rally and counter protesters, saying those areas will be strictly enforced.
“The public should expect street closures, which will be announced at a later date,” the press release continues, noting while it may be an inconvenience, the decision is “in the best interested of public safety.”
While police will be protecting the rights of assembly and free speech, the city makes it a point to note “violent acts, threat, and intimidation are not protected rights.”
“Our federal, state, and local laws will be enforced and criminal conduct will not be tolerated,” the city states.
Anyone who is planning or organized a protest either in support of or to counter protest the rally planned by League of the South is asked to contact Police Chief Jan Phillips at 931-684-5811.
The white nationalist movement is expected to protest in Murfreesboro after leaving Shelbyville.