White Lives Matter was conceived as a do over of Unite the Right.
Ever since Charlottesville, I have been eager to fight back against the false narrative that was constructed about what happened on August 12th. I felt that we were unfairly blamed for the violence that erupted in the streets. It wasn’t our fault that Charlottesville Police failed to do their jobs that day. They made no effort whatsoever to separate the two sides and deliberately allowed the violence to escalate in order use it as an excuse to shutdown the rally as an “unlawful assembly.”
We didn’t come to Charlottesville in order to walk into a Berkeley situation. If that were the case, I certainly never would have brought my wife who stayed away from the front lines in Auburn, New Orleans and Shelbyville. We came to participate in a free speech rally, listen to some speeches, protest the removal of a Confederate monument, drive a message on social media and network with other likeminded people. The League of the South has organized dozens of similar rallies since 2013.
I’ve said for months now the Charlottesville Police and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe are responsible for the chaos on August 12th. In order to prove it, I originally came up with the idea of holding Unite the Right 2.0 in a different state. We would do it the right way this time. We would lean on our own experience with previous events to correct the errors of Charlottesville. Unite the Right wasn’t a bad idea. We simply couldn’t have picked a worse location to do something that huge in the South.
By early September, I was already working on White Lives Matter:
– Instead of the single most leftwing city in Dixie, we would hold this event in friendlier territory. We were looking for a red county in a red state.
– After Charlottesville, we wouldn’t even bother to invite the Alt-Lite and Patriots which could be counted on to panic and disavow us again at the first sign of trouble.
– We would hold this event in the geographic center of the eastern United States. This would cut the costs of traveling for everyone who wanted to attend.
– We decided that we would hold this rally in Kentucky or Tennessee where law enforcement has a reliable track record of preventing disorder at our events.
– We decided the rally would have to be near a major metro area so there would be plenty of affordable lodging after the AirBnb disaster in Charlottesville.
The League of the South had discussed holding a rally in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville in the fall at our national conference in June. This idea was already on the drawing board. We wanted to go back to the area to highlight the refugee resettlement issue in the light of all the violence that had occurred in Europe. It was in this context that the idea of “Unite the Right 2.0” merged with going back to Middle Tennessee. We applied for the permits to hold this event there in September.
The rally that became White Lives Matter was already a go when the Emanuel Samson church shooting happened in Antioch on September 24th. The story was covered extensively in the Tennessee media, but it was neglected by the national media which was focused on the NFL protests and a series of major hurricanes. After Antioch, White Lives Matter began to rapidly take shape around the theme of refugee resettlement and the Antioch church shooting because of this perfect storm of issues.
The media was driving a narrative at the time that the Alt-Right had been broken and driven underground by Charlottesville. In the League of the South, we figured that we would let the backlash settle down, focus on rebuilding our websites and give Antifa the space to discredit itself. We would have our next big public rally around Halloween in Tennessee. The Nationalist Front groups swiftly came on board. Anti-Communist Action and The Right Stuff were persuaded to join us. We all needed to do something to move beyond Charlottesville and the Emanuel Samson church shooting was something we could do to draw attention to a story neglected by the media. White people being murdered in a church by a Sudanese refugee in retaliation for Charleston should have been something we could all rally around.
It didn’t pan out for three reasons:
– First, Andrew Anglin at The Daily Stormer came up with the idea of rebranding as “American Nationalism,” and holding only American flag rallies in which all guns were banned. This made it impossible for him to work with the Nationalist Front.
– Second, Identity Evropa decided to do its own thing and focus on Richard Spencer’s college tour and flash rallies in which other groups were kept out of the loop.
– Third, the optics spiraling on Twitter reached a fever pitch in October and dissolved what little unity still existed in the Alt-Right after Charlottesville.
In light of this, we gave up on these people and moved forward with the White Lives Matter rally, but left the door open to these other groups to participate. None of us thought it was big deal. We already knew Identity Evropa was holding the college tour. We also intend to hold more League of the South events anyway in the fall and winter. The purpose of this rally was to show we could all get together and do something else without it turning into a clusterfuck like Charlottesville.
White Lives Matter had clearly defined objectives: Draw national attention to the Emanuel Samson church shooting. Foster greater unity and cohesion within our own movement. Turn the page on Charlottesville. Unlike previous rallies, we had a mission in Tennessee.
In hindsight, White Lives Matter went off pretty much as we expected it would. There were about 200 White Nationalists, Southern Nationalists and National Socialists with us in Tennessee. As expected, it was larger than Pikeville, but smaller than Charlottesville. There was no violence, shootings or arrests in Shelbyville. We proved that it is still possible to hold free speech rallies. We proved that some cities are more committed to upholding law and order than others.
After Shelbyville, we went to Henry Horton State Park and had a picnic. We talked for several hours, got to know each other a little better and had a fundraiser for Jacob Goodwin of Arkansas who is locked up in Charlottesville over the DeAndre Harris race hoax. Since we accomplished all three of our goals, we didn’t even bother to go to the Murfreesboro rally. It was too much of a risk.
The biggest disappointment of the weekend by far was Antioch which was always our real target. White Lives Matter had planned to hold a candlelight march to the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ after dark. The plan was to go to the church, lay a wreath at the door, say a prayer and express our grief about what happened there. I feel that too often our movement is unfairly associated with hate when it is really about our love for our own people. It would have been something totally unexpected and out of character and a nice touch after expressing our anger earlier in the day.
Unfortunately, we announced this at Henry Horton State Park in the presence of several reporters, and somehow Louisville Antifa was tipped off about a “torchlight march” at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ. In order to avoid those violent people attacking us at a church while we mourned our dead, I had to call it off at the last minute. We also called off Murfreesboro and left Henry Horton State Park to avoid them. My goal this weekend was to avoid those idiots. We were already leaving in a caravan when dozens of state troopers and the FBI rolled into the park in order prevent Antifa from attacking the picnic. In the future, we are also going to avoid clashes with them insofar as possible.
I will briefly touch on some other issues this weekend:
– We had planned for each group to come dressed in its own attire and to stand together with their own optics, but the cold weather in Shelbyville made this pointless. Nearly everyone there came wearing a black jacket and the optics were so similar that we all blended into one large group. The rules also banned flag poles which would have made everyone who was there look more distinct.
– There were no swastika flags in Shelbyville. This had been the major concern going into the rally. There weren’t many flags there period because flag poles were banned.
– I will give the opposition credit for having far better sound equipment. We will be doing a fundraiser to buy better equipment as well as walkie talkies and Go Pro cameras.
– I enjoyed talking to Mike Cannon who organized the counterprotest. It would be nice if more people could talk instead of shouting down each other over political differences.
– The security checkpoint in Shelbyville stalled us for an hour and a half and threw off our schedule. We didn’t have time to do lunch and go to Murfreesboro and pass through that much security again. The permit would have been over by the time we got there.
– There’s no doubt that a handful of individuals who came to the rally need to take better care of themselves. There were also several other distractions like pins and patches. This wasn’t true of the vast majority of the crowd that was in attendance though in Shelbyville, but it is something that will need to be addressed at future events.
– We saw several incidents this weekend which illustrated the importance of ironing out differences in the real world that are generated by internet gossip. This is why we need to know each other in the real world in order to minimize this bullshit.
– We arrived late in Shelbyville and didn’t have time to vet people at the meeting point.
– There is an anti-Nazi crowd, a pro-National Socialist crowd and a third group which doesn’t care about associations because we are all marginalized and called “racists” and “Nazis” anyway. I fall into the third group because I am so tired of spineless conservatives.
– Murfreesboro was cancelled because our schedule was thrown off and intel that it was a lawsuit trap waiting to happen. We will never know if it would have gone down peacefully. I don’t see how Antifa could have possibly attacked and started a riot with such stringent rules.
– We definitely should have put it out earlier that Murfreesboro was cancelled. Everyone didn’t follow the caravan to Henry Horton State Park.
Overall, I’m satisfied with how White Lives Matter turned out. It trended on Twitter all day in the United States. We succeeded in drawing attention to the Emanuel Samson church shooting. There was no violence, arrests, shootings or any major clouds hanging over event. I feel that we moved beyond Charlottesville and demonstrated that the failure of the policing there was due its extreme leftwing local politics. It was an inexcusable failure on the part of Charlottesville.
My biggest disappointment is with the Alt-Right. I sense that the message has become optics aimed at signaling to the upper middle class. It seems to be evolving from a broader racial movement into a narrower class movement at the expense of internal solidarity. It is clear now that different groups responded to Charlottesville in different ways. The League of the South’s plan was to move beyond Charlottesville by showing that Unite the Right would have worked fine in another location while other groups became much more focused on optics.
I will have much more to say about the optics debate soon. There is a lot that I haven’t said about the issue. We’re going to make a number of adjustments, but extricate ourselves from that tar baby before it destroys our own internal unity and ability to mobilize in public.