All call to oppose the League of the South in Tennessee on September 15th, when the white nationalist neo-Confederate group will protest a PRIDE celebration, and on September 29th, when the fascists will rally in support of Confederate monuments.
Cover photo: Members of League of the South pose with other neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates in a KKK like burning ceremony of a swastika.
The League of the South (LOS) and other far-Right/neo-Nazi groups are organizing two events in Northeast Tennessee this month. One will target the TriPride march in Johnson City and the other is a gathering in Elizabethton, Tennessee to protest the fall of Silent Sam in Chapel Hill NC.
The LOS and other hate groups wish to rewrite the history of our region, attempting to paint it simply as a land conquered by white men whose power has disintegrated since the Civil War. We know this region was stolen from the indigenous folks who maintained a healthy relationship between humans and the land. We know this region had a large abolitionist presence during antebellum slavery, and we cannot allow white supremacists to recast this history as one based in hate and human suffering. This is a call to action to continue the legacy of resisting hate and racism in our region.
The LOS is a neo-Confederate hate group known for its flash-rallies brandishing the Confederate battle flag in small towns across the South, and for its extreme violence like in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017 last summer. Their Chief of Staff is Michael Tubbs, a former green beret who went to prison for stealing and stockpiling weapons from the US Military (fuck them too) for the KKK, and who was integral to the violence in Charlottesville.
Calling LOS fascistic in its politics is not hyperbole. Michael Hill, president of the league, often uses anti-Semitic speech such as “international Jewry” and “ovens of justice” in statements and videos promoting the league’s vision of the South. Although the league has distanced itself from some more open neo-Nazis such as the umbrella group Nationalist Front, its members continue to share explicitly neo-Nazi propaganda on social media.
TriPride will be held in Johnson City, TN and will march through downtown, starting at 101 Commerce Street. Tennessee LOS coordinator Tom Pierce has called for a protest to happen along the march route. Pierce helped organize a similar protest against a Pride march last June in Knoxville.
The fascist anti-Pride demonstrators numbered around ten and one of their attendees, Kynan Dutton [best known for trying to take over a small North Dakota town in the documentary, Welcome to Leith], was arrested as he attempted to attack anti-homophobic/transphobic protestors. Pierce seems to mainly organize as a member of LOS but has ties to many other far-Right groups. Confederate 28 is a Knoxville based neo-Confederate group led by Pierce that has teamed up with the Shieldwall Network. From Billy Roper’s blog:
Announcement from Confederate 28
We are very pleased to announce that the ShieldWall Network has joined our Confederation. Billy Roper [long-time neo-Nazi organizer] has been a longtime friend of ours, and he held a chair on our old Blood and Honour AD National Council. We look forward to collaborating with the ShieldWall Network, and benefiting from the expertise and decades of experience that Billy and other of their members have.
Billy Roper, a key figure in Shieldwall Network, has claimed in his podcast that East Tennessee is “the seedbed of the ethno-state.” He has bragged about the network’s presence at Knoxville Pride, citing names of local fascists like Craig Spaulding, Johan Carollo, and Kynan Dutton. Other non-LOS fascists that may be in attendance from the area include Colton Willams, Deborah Dutton and Garon Archer. Homophobic/transphobic rhetoric and action has been a central focus for fascist organizing in our region. We must throw down against this hate and show them Appalachia will not tolerate their presence.
Pierce was recently interviewed by The Johnson City Press in regards to TriPride on the 15th:
Pierce said they will set up along the event’s parade route with Confederate and Tennessee flags in protest of the group’s message of inclusion.
We’re calling for folx to organize autonomously for this event. The fascists could show up on any part of the march route so be prepared to visibly or physically block them from interfering with the pride march.
On September 29th in Elizabethton, Tennessee, LOS will hold at rally protesting the fall of Silent Sam and other Confederate monuments. It seems LOS is unaware that Carter County and indeed most of East TN voted against joining the Confederacy and was home to an active insurgency against the Confederate Army’s occupation of the area. Sycamore Shoals state park has been announced as the venue via statements to local papers and social media via Tom Pierce and Michael Hill.
This venue was decided on after the group could not attain a permit to protest within Johnson City. The group has rented a picnic table but park officials say no group has applied for a “special permit” required for gatherings of more than 25 people. LOS continues to promote the event despite the apparent lack of permit.
If you cannot show up to either of these events, please spread the word. Talk with your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers about these issues. Print flyers, encourage local businesses to not serve these groups, do anything and everything you can to make sure these folx know their genocidal ideology is not welcome. We must show the world that Appalachians will not tolerate this hate in our hollers. These groups will find nothing but fierce resistance to their organizing.
We’ll end with this Twitter thread posted by The Holler Network that provides some context for East Tennessee’s history of abolitionist/anti-confederate history:
Shout-out to East Tennessee, which despite being consistently targeted by fascists in the last year, and housing a few sad Nazis who have to bring in “friends” from all over the eastern US to have a significant presence, East Tennessee has a rich history of
#antislavery and #abolitionist organizing.
Many of us were taught that the abolitionist movement of the 1800’s was by and large an effort led by Northerners living far removed from the Southern plantation states’ slavery driven economy. While the abolitionist cause was certainly stronger in the North, East Tennessee was largely anti-slavery in its sentiments and politics.
The economy was not dependent on slave labor, and an active abolitionist movement, prompted by religious and moral convictions, emerged early. In 1797, one year after Tennessee became a state, the Friends Society, more commonly known as the Quakers, began to organize opposition to slavery. Elihu and Elijah Embree, sons of a Quaker minister who came to East Tennessee from Pennsylvania in 1790, played a prominent role. Elihu, an iron manufacturer, owned slaves as a young man but by age thirty had become an ardent abolitionist.
By 1815, he was a leader in the abolitionist society organized in Greene County. Elihu Embree first published The Emancipator in April of 1820 in Jonesborough (Washington County). The monthly periodical was the first publication in the United States devoted exclusively to the antislavery cause. Embree called slaveholders “monsters in human flesh” and argued vehemently against additional slave-holding states being allowed in the Union. Embree’s condemnation of slavery was as harsh as any, including the better-known abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who began publishing his anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator, in the 1830s. By the time The Liberator was first published, there were 25 anti-slavery societies in Tennessee, with a membership of about 1,000.
In Blount County, the Quakers established two towns, Unitia in 1791 and Friendsville about 1796. The Friendsville community became the site of the Newberry monthly meetings of Quakers in 1808. Friendsville Academy was established in 1857 and still operates, with one or two original buildings remaining, as the local high school. The Quakers at Friendsville were connected to the Underground Railroad movement.
When League of the South and other fuckheads try to advocate for a “southern” (white) ethno-state in this region, we look to our history to learn from our mistakes, draw from our strengths, and keep fighting. After all, no one’s free ’till we’re all free!