Tennessee cities prepare for white nationalist rallies set for this weekend

Two supporters of White Nationalist Richard Spencer clash with the crowd after a speech by Spencer Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – As Middle Tennessee prepares for two white nationalist rallies taking place this Saturday, the affected the cities are putting plans in place.

The rallies, led by the League of the South, begin in Shelbyville Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and head to Murfreesboro later that afternoon.

Shelbyville began preparing a couple weeks ago, creating a traffic and road closure plan just days later.

The city of Murfreesboro has now announced their plans as well Wednesday, saying they’re working with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies to “ensure the constitutional rights and safety of citizens.”

MORE: Events canceled, roads closed due to white nationalist rallies Saturday

The League of the South, which was also present during the violent Charlottesville, Virginia, protests earlier this year, filed an application with both the city and county for their rally.

It’ll be held on the Public Square from 1:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., and the League of the South is expected to be joined by affiliated groups.

Other individuals and groups are expected as counter-protestors.

“Teams of officers will safeguard the area. We ask everyone to maintain lawful behavior,” said Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh and Murfreesboro Police Interim Chief Michael Bowen in a joint statement.

City officials described the views of the League of the South as “not from this community,” saying they “do not represent those of the city and county.”

However, Murfreesboro acknowledges the First Amendment and right to free speech and peaceably assemble.

“Some in our community might feel compelled to witness the demonstrations, but in the interest of reducing tension and avoiding conflicts, the City of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County government strongly encourage community members to avoid the Public Square Oct. 28,” officials stated.

“As the sixth fastest-growing mid-sized community in the nation and home to MTSU, the largest undergraduate university in Tennessee, the City and County are proud of the community we are building and the diversity of its residents,” the city added.

Law enforcement officers coordinated with fire, medical, emergency management and public works agencies in planning for Saturday’s event.

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