Burns, TN: Report Back from American Renaissance Counter-Mobilization

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Nashville Antifascist Action participated in the disruption of the American Renaissance (AmRen) conference held in Burns, Tennessee July 28th-30th at the Montgomery Bell State Park.

AmRen is a veritable who’s who of white supremacists who gather annually to espouse largely antiquated and refuted pseudoscientific claims that cis-heterosexual white males are superior to their numerous counterparts (queer, POC, femme, etc.). Organized by Jared Taylor, this conference is a keystone event for suit-and-tie racists seeking to expand their hateful platform under the guise of “free speech.” Attendees included Richard Spencer (everyone’s most memorable hit from 2017), Nathan Damigo of Identity Evropa (known for assaulting Louise Rosealma in Berkeley), and several other adherents to the “white identity movement” and the “Alt-Right.”

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A broad coalition of activists, including antifascists, Anonymous, anti-racists, the NAACP, progressives, and liberals gathered together to form an anti-racist network to obfuscate and resist the gathering of racists at AmRen. The venerable Daryle Lamont Jenkins, widely known for exposing Nazis and white supremacists, helped spearhead the efforts to organize this rally. Progressive groups held teach-ins and community building exercises, musicians provided entertainment, and solidarity was the order for the day for those who sought to resist AmRen’s presence.

Interestingly, although the Alt-Right consistently categorizes antifascists as being violent degenerates, in a not-so-surprising turn of events one of the conference attendees, Ohio native William Markley, attempted to assault a member of the antifascist protest group.  Markley attacked anarcho-journalist and esteemed author for The Fifth Column, John Carico, known to most within the anarchist community in Tennessee as one of the most level-headed and peaceful people around.

But still waters run deep, and Carico proceeded to deal out one of the most fearsome self-defense ass-whippings we’ve seen around these parts. A Nashville Antifascist recounted watching the fray, “I saw him (Markley) come running from behind swinging his arms at John, and John just threw down…Next thing I know, dude is sliding down the hill into the lake and the cops are running in. It was like the guy did a huge pile of cocaine and decided to fight all the antifa.” Carico’s act of self defense resulted in a few minor abrasions and an arrest for disorderly conduct. Markley on the other hand, had to be taken by helicopter to a Nashville hospital for a CT scan, and was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct as well.

Interestingly, although Alt-Right trolls have frequently targeted antifascists online, promising a Pinochet-inspired helicopter ride, none have had the capacity to take it to the meatspace and deliver. How bittersweet it must be for those righteous keyboard warriors to know that an antifascist provided one of their own with a “helicopter ride.” To add insult to injury, antifascists collectivized a white nationalist flag which was used for a late-night fire.  Let it be known: if racists come to Tennessee to stir shit, it will be expensive, y’all.

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After the violence perpetrated by the Alt-Right conference attendees, the local law enforcement attempted to hinder the movement of the protestors and eject the antifascists from the park. At this point in time, the pigs came up against the steely resolve of the legal observers who were able to provide legal push-back on the police who were, for some reason, trying to eject the protestors from the park under the guise of “safety.” The legal observers objected on the grounds that our group did not perpetrate the violence, and only reacted in self defense, so why would the police eject us and not the AmRen attendees? At this point the police became flustered and declared that the AmRen attendees had PAID to be there. The legal observers calmly interjected that the protestors had a valid permit to enter the park and paying did not give the AmRen attendees more right to free speech and assembly at the park than we had.

At this point, the police attempted to appeal the liberal/progressive group that was the permit holders to eject the antifascists from their protest. In a moment of beautiful solidarity the liberals/progressives refused to turn away the antifascist protestors and the police, without legitimate cause to disperse our group, were forced to allow the protest to continue. Thus, our coalition remained intact and obfuscated the AmRen conference up until the gathering dispersed. We continue to stand in solidarity with John Carico, his partner and their family.

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A big thanks to Tennessee Photographs for providing excellent professional photography services.

Nashville Antifascist Action

Anonymous Nashville and Surrounding Areas


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