'Murfreesboro Loves' protests white nationalism from a distance
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- As many as 1,000 counter-protesters showed up to the white nationalist rally planned for Murfreesboro square Saturday, according to police.
Hundreds more chose to show their opposition by staying away from downtown, but still sending a strong message.
Members of the group "Murfreesboro Loves" gathered at Barfield Park late Saturday morning, to say they do not support the white nationalists set to rally downtown Saturday afternoon.
“We're here to give a voice to the folks who might not be heard otherwise, we're trying to say we don't accept hate here in Murfreesboro, we aren't about white supremacy,” says Pastor Chris Warren, of First Cumberland Presbyterian.
The group huddled together to pray, listen to speakers, and organize a peaceful protest of their very own.
From the park, members broke off and travelled to two sites away from the courthouse square.
“The city released a statement asking people to stay away from the square and we're respecting that,” explains organizer Abdo Kattih.
“I don't want to put myself in harm’s way, it's obvious these people aren't rational,” adds Janiqua Wilson, a counter-protester.
“In general, I believe standing up for what you believe in and not fighting against something you don't believe in is where the power is,” says Susan Dickerson.
While one group headed near the mall, the other marched to Church Street.
They consider it a good entrance point to their city from Shelbyville, and were ready to greet the white nationalists with chants of love and kindness.
“We’re just trying to keep up a loud noise of acceptance, diversity, and love at a time people outside of our community come in to spread a hateful violent message,” says Joshua Hendricks. “We're not going to go and yell and scream in their faces, but try to outshine them with the love that is in our hearts.”
Later in the afternoon, following the peaceful counter protests, the group returned to Barfield Park for family activities.