White supremacists plan Tennessee protest, summit – USA Today – USA TODAY

USA Today NetworkBrittany Crocker, The (Knoxville, Tenn.) News-Sentinel Published 7:45 p.m. ET Aug. 20, 2017

Demonstrators marched in the streets of Durham, North Carolina on Friday in response to rumors that the KKK would be holding a rally there. (Aug. 18) AP

At left Norman Holliman of Maryville and Phillip Cook of Powell scrub off paint that was used to deface a Confederate monument in Fort Sanders Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.(Photo: CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SENTINEL)

In the midstof heated debate over the fate of a Fort Sanders monument honoring Confederate soldiers, white supremacists have made plans to come to East Tennessee.

Confederate 28, a newly reformed white supremacist group, has made plans to rally at the Fort Sanders monument at 1 p.m. on Aug. 26, to protest its possible removal.

Petitions to save, get rid of monument

The monument, which has been both defaced and cleaned in the time since the deadly white supremacist rally inCharlottesville,has been the subject of dueling local petitions.

A change.org petition by Knoxville resident Ben Allen, asking Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero to remove the monument, has reached nearly 2,500 signatures.A petition to save the monument, created by residentDavid Hicks, has reached nearly 5,000 signatures.

On Thursday, some members of the Knoxville City Council saidthey would prefer to keep the monument where it is, although it’s not entirely within their control.

A new state law disallows the city from moving it without a waiver from the State Historical Commission.

Klan members salute during a KKK rally in Justice Park Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va.(Photo: Steve Helber, AP)

Confederate 28 affiliatesitself with the United Kingdom-based skinhead gangBlood and Honour. The stateside group marked its return from a five-year hiatus in June by passing out stickers at a soccer game in Indiana and protesting a gay pride parade in Tennessee,according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The local chapter of Confederate 28is also affiliated with the mostly-defunct white supremacist group theSouth Knox Ten Milers, which is headed by former Knox County Commission candidate Tom Pierce. The groupreposted Hicks’ petition to save the monument.

Confederate 28 may be joined by members of the white supremacist forum Stormfront, according to posts within the forum.

Jesse Mayshark, a spokesman for Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero’s office, said in a statement, “We’re aware of the planned rally, and we are making plans to ensure public safety.”

Mayshark referred to a Facebook post from Rogero, which says, in part, “We will continue to stand together against hatred and prejudices of all kinds.”

Stormfront plans Sept. 30 summit

White supremacists from Stormfront, an online forum of over 330,000 members from four continents, are planning a clandestine meeting in the Great Smoky Mountainsover the last weekend in September, according to an announcement from the website’s founder, Don Black.

“White Pride Worldwide” is listed on Stormfront’s web home page.

It also says: “We are a community of racial realists and idealists. We are White Nationalists who supporttruediversity and a homeland forallpeoples. Thousands of organizations promote the interests, values and heritage of non-White minorities. We promote ours.”

Stormfront’s Don Black was previously a Grand Wizard in the Klu Klux Klan and a member of the American Nazi Party.

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He announced open registration for the Sept. 30 weekend event last month, which will include speeches by himself, Klan attorney Sam Dickson, andDavid Duke, another highly prominent former KKK leader.

Sept. 30 is alsoYom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

The fall weekend’s events, billed as being”near Knoxville, Tennessee,” will include a Friday evening reception and a nature walk inDuke’s honor on Sunday, according to the Stormfront website.

“As always, great fellowship in a still beautiful part of nearly all-White east Tennessee outside Knoxville,” Black wrote in his post.”This will be the height of the beautiful ‘color change,’but this is about leaves in the deciduous forest,” he added.

Black went on to claim that the meeting was not secret, though the forum thoroughly vets new members before admitting them to a private post disclosing the summit venue’s location. Nearly 700posts have been made in the private summit thread.

It is unclear whether each post represents anattendee, but members are already soliciting the online community for carpool rides.

Indivisible East Tennessee response

“We’re in discussions with other progressive organizations about responding to the white supremacists who are coming to our district,” wrote Sarah Thompson-Herron of Indivisible East Tennessee in a statementSunday.

“Our focus continues to be on holding our members of Congress accountable and we will most certainly be calling on Rep. Duncan and Sens. Corker and Alexander to denounce these hate groups.”

The Stormfront summit is the seventh of its kind. Previous Stormfront gatherings have been held in Norris Dam State Park in Lake City, and in Sevierville.Other white separatist events have taken place in Tennessee, including the 2013Southern National Congress in Pikeville’s Fall Creek Falls State Park. In 2014, theKKKheld a rally at Davey Crockett State Park. The same year, Political Cesspool held a summit in Memphis and American Renaissance rallied in Dixon County.

Southern Poverty Law Center reports38 hate groupsare currently operating in Tennessee.

Violent history

Stormfront’ssite frequently posts statements from Duke, who was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump’s campaign and celebrated his lead on election night. Trump has disavowed Duke and the KKK.

The recent violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which was called Unite the Right, was billed as a protest against the removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The rally drew hundreds of protestors with Nazi symbols and Confederate flags who chanted racist slogans.

White nationalist David Duke makes his way onto the grounds of Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park, during a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.(Photo: Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar)

“We are determined to take our country back, Duke said of the Charlottesville rally. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters gathered to oppose the “Unite the Right” rally. Nineteen others were injured in the incident. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, has been charged with second-degree murder in Heyers death.

Another white supremacist site, The Daily Stormer, was kicked off its hosting platform for celebrating Heyer’s death.

Stormfront has been associated with violence in the past.

A two-year studyby the SPLCtied more than 100 murders to members of Stormfrontoverthe five-year period after Barack Obama was elected president.

Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina,was a member of the website. Later, in his confession, he admitted his intent was to “start a race war.”

Contributing: Travis Dorman,USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

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White supremacists plan Tennessee protest, summit – USA Today – USA TODAY

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