The streets of Memphis were empty on January the 6th, the day of the confederate 901 rally. The city encouraged everyone to just stay home & avoid the rally. And though most did, that didn’t stop a few brave residents from going out to demonstrate against white supremacy in their home. In addition to the relatively small amount of both protesters & counter protesters, the streets were absolutely FULL of cops, who blocked and patrolled most streets.
Anti-Fascist counter protesters arrive to defend their community against hate and bigotry
The full force of the State came to bear against our communities in the form of militarized local police, Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, and riot squads.
Though Confederate 901 and his followers spoke a lot about white supremacists not attending their rally, it was very obvious that this was not the case. It was made apparent from the very beginning that this event was a far right event. But not only that, it was being spearheaded by the traditionalist workers party, a far right white nationalist group founded by the leader of the American national socialist movement, Matthew Heimbach.
Also in attendance was Billy Roper, a white nationalist with ties to the KKK, who was once given press passes by the Trump administration. Roper later boasted on Twitter that he brought at least 20 white nationalists from his group to the rally with him.
(Its important to note rumors that David Duke was spotted too.)
Billy Roper, and other white nationalist with ties to the KKK in attendance
Trucks with League of the South (a rebranding of the old KKK) plates were also spotted roaming around. But perhaps the most obvious evidence that this was a far right event was when white nationalists & neo-confederates held up a big banner reading “diversity = white genocide”
Three Percenter militia (III%ers) were in attendance as well (go figure, they’re always where nazis are!).
At some point before the rally, it was announced that it had been changed to a “ride”. This effectively meant that they would be driving in convoys of big trucks with obnoxious oversized flags on them.
Confederate 901, days before the rally, posted pictures of confederate convoys and semi trucks, claiming that they were coming to the rally. Likely a tactic to intimidate those who opposed the rally, and encourage his followers to come out.
But these pictures were proven to be fake, as the pictures of the semi trucks were taken from a fundraiser a year before, and the picture of the confederate convoy didn’t even match the weather of the location he claimed it was coming from.
(He also posted such slogans as “there’s a storm coming, Memphis!” And “we are coming!” With a picture of a semi.)
When Arkansas ARA arrived in Memphis, we started off by driving past every confederate meeting point to see how many rally goers were in attendance. And though we drove by at the designated times, not many people had even shown up to any of the meeting points.
Not even at the Loves truck stop.
And it seemed that there weren’t even any semi trucks participating in the ride.
(We sure didn’t see any…)
Though there was a live stream of a gathering in a Wal-Mart parking lot. But the management quickly demanded they leave the premises. The 901 Confederate gang tucked their tails and fled immediately because it is thoroughly embarrassing to be kicked out of a Walmart parking lot.
Eventually a convoy of around 10 trucks flying Gadsden and American flags was seen speeding down the highway in a line. (Though not even in the right direction.) The convoys were supposed to be going in a counterclockwise loop around Memphis, but this group was going clockwise.. Shortly after, Confederate 901 released 2 or 3 separate exasperated videos telling people that they are going the wrong way and need to go the opposite direction. The entire operation was laughable at best.
Not long after, Nashville AntiFa & Arkansas ARA met up in a parking lot to go join a gathering of SURJ protesters at the rally point. But before we could even leave the parking lot, a man with a swastika arm band sped into the parking lot yelling.
The fascist troll called someone on his phone, then circled the parking lot quickly and recklessly multiple times. Eventually he parked and went for a gun in the trunk, so everyone in the parking lot left the area. But the Nazi followed in his beat up car, driving onto a side walk during a red light, swerving into oncoming traffic, then making a U-turn in oncoming traffic and speeding off.
(He also opened his door while speeding off.. Our group was convinced he was on a lot of some sort of stimulant, because he kept twitching, screaming, and fidgeting around.)
After the encounter, the antifascist groups parked elsewhere and headed towards the rally on foot. The confederate convoys then headed down the same street that the anti fascists were marching down, and pretty much every driver of an oversized flag covered vehicle yelled different homophobic slurs and phrases at those marching. To the surprise of those yelling slurs, instead of showing their anger, the anti fascists yelled back with phrases such as, “hell yeah we are! you know it, brother! Tell it like it is!” Which made the bigot drivers visibly angry.
After exiting the street that the convoy was going down, the anti fascists walked past a blocked off road and headed for the rally, but were stopped by police, who harassed them about where they were going until the group just walked off.
Every road around the park was blocked with city garbage trucks and hoards of police officers, so you could only get close to the rally on foot.
After reaching the park, five officers blocked the sidewalk and denied the group access to the rally, telling us to turn around and that if we even turn left and head away from the rally, we will still be arrested. To combat this, our group turned around and took a shortcut through an alley to the other entrance of the rally.
After exiting the alley we were immediately met by members of the community, Some of whom seemed intimidated at first, but most people nearby greeted us and thanked us for coming out to stand up for their community.
As the we march into the second rally entrance point, around 20-25 cops rushed towards us, then the lieutenant told us all to stand down, and get rid of any flag poles and back packs or they couldn’t enter.
Per usual protocol, the cops allowed the white nationalists to bring in shields, helmets, and a few clubs, yet counter protesters weren’t allowed to even bring in cigarettes or lighters. Exactly as the cops did at the Shelbyville TN rally held by white nationalist groups such as the Traditionalist Workers Party, National Socialist Movement, League of the South, etc.
A few counter protesters also mentioned that the park is labeled as “private property” and became worried that the police would let them in, only to arrest them for trespassing. Their reason for assuming this would happen, they claimed, was from personal experience in similar situations.
Maybe an hour later, all antifascists were gathered on a sidewalk outside of the rally when confederate 901 walked by with a man wearing a confederate flag hat. The group sarcastically said “hey buddy, how’s it going!?” to Confederate 901. Confederate 901 replied with “fixing to beat all of y’alls asses!”
The anti fascists then gathered around and encouraged him to go ahead and go for it, but he simply retreated at a faster pace.
Suddenly members of Mercy Junction and SURJ come around and greeted the anti-fascists. Minutes later, the progressive organizers approached confederate 901 as a group and started debating with him about what the confederate states stood for. Unable to articulate a cogent counter-argument, he began yelling that everyone in the crowd is “just ignorant” and embarks on making threats of violence towards people.
At one point he said “I don’t like all of you wearing hammer & sickles!” And the crowd laughed at him for assuming everyone in attendance was communist.
With tensions now rising and the crowd now circling him, slowly moving closer and yelling at him after each aggressive thing he yelled, he retreated to his car.
The antifascists circled his car for a second and yelled, but then let him pass quickly after.
As he was leaving the parking lot he stopped and let a black journalist into his car, as he gets out and yells “see! I can’t be racist, I let a black man into my car!”
Which made the crowd laugh hysterically and mock him, saying numerous jabs including, “I can’t be racist, I know a black guy!”
He then stopped the car a second time before exiting the parking lot just to yell more threats out the window to protesters. That’s when an antifascist approached his car and started yelling back at him to “do it already, or get the hell out!” Then protesters started telling him to get out of Tennessee and stay out.
At this point, an undercover cop swerved onto the side of the road quickly and at an angle, almost driving onto the sidewalk full of counter protestors. Immediately, the group of counter protestors became anxious that the white nationalists were going through with their threats to run over protesters, something they had been doing in comment sections of the confederate 901 page leading up to this event. The cop then grabbed anyone standing near confederate 901s car and roughly pulled them away.
As confederate 901 drove off, the crowd chanted “NA-NA-NA-NA! NA-NA-NA-NA! HEY HEY! GOOD BYE!”
We subsequently left the area marching together and chanting “WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!” and “ALERTA ALERTA, ANTIFASCISTA!”
At this point in the afternoon the majority of the few white nationalists and neo-confederates had already left, and the police had started taking down the barricades, so the city was finally starting to calm down.
At some point, Billy Roper sent out a tweet claiming that they had “defeated AntiFa and BLM” at the park. (Fyi, it never happened and he got maybe 3 likes on the tweet.)
So what’s to be said about all of this?
They had to lie about everything in order to make this rally seem credible. They even lied about their numbers. Boasting thousands of people planning to attend, but only drawing in somewhere around 30 people. (They even gathered around real close and took close pictures that make it appear as if they were taken in a large crowd).
They had to lie about white supremacists not being in attendance in order to protect an image of “heritage, not hate” The main organizer was chased out of a parking lot, and out of town.
They had to lie about defeating their enemies.
Yet, as usual when they fail, they get on the internet and claim victory?
Their so called “victory” is founded on lies.
They should all be embarrassed!
And that alone is enough to say that this victory goes to the citizens of Memphis and their allies who came from across the state and country to protest against white supremacy.
But there is something to be said about direct action as well. They were so afraid of people coming out to protest them that they lied about their numbers, posted threats online, changed their rally to a ride, etc. And that’s because directly confronting and speaking out against them WORKS. We can NOT let them feel like their toxic ideas are welcomed in our communities.
So to those brave concerned citizens who came out to stand up for their communities, for those who came from out of town to take up for their neighbors, WE SALUTE YOU!