A group of white Nationalist came to Cumberland County last night and started a meeting at the recreational center at Cumberland Mountain State Park this morning (Saturday, September 30, 2017). They were met by a larger presence of anti-protesters telling them their message and presence was not welcomed. The group reportedly is from StormFront who have toured the nation. The latest stop for them was Charlottesville, Virginia where one woman was killed during the protest of white nationalist and neo-nazis.
A restaurant in Crossville cancelled the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker’s Party groups meet and greet that was scheduled for last night (Friday, September 30, 2017). The group later met at Shoney’s in Crossville. This morning, the group had planned to meet in a banquet room at the Cumberland Mountain State Park restaurant but changed plans to meet in the recreation building. The group was met by counter-protesters and Chris Irwin, an attorney from Knoxville, who used a megaphone to heckle the group as they went inside the recreation building to have their meeting. Group members that were seen taking part in the conference and identified included Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party (who took part in the Charlottesville demonstration), Ku Klux Klan National Director Thomas Robb, white nationalist and former Knox County Commissioner Tom Pierce and Billy Roper, a white supremacist that organized the event at the state park. Park rangers as well as officers with the Crossville Police Department kept the group and counter-protesters separated for the event. Park officials say under a dozen white supremacist meetings have taken place at state parks in Tennessee in the past seven years. The white nationalist met inside the recreation center and reportedly reviewed with others how to run for office and how to use the internet to gather information on supporters as well as ones against them. The white nationalist group at the meeting consisted of men, women and even children. The license plates on the vehicles that the white nationalist drove to Cumberland Mountain State Park was a state roll call as numerous states were represented including Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico, Arkansas, California and many others.
Counter protester Chris Irwin told 105.7 News this afternoon that he got involved after read about the event after seeing members of Stormfront protest in the Ft. Sanders area of Knoxville recently. Irwin, an attorney from Knoxville, then went on to address how he was able to keep up with the group to their annual meeting that would take place in Crossville. “This is a planning conference here in Crossville for Stormfront. Stormfront is the largest white nationalist group in the nation with over 300,000 projected members. They operate in secrecy and once they found out that their location was made public here, they scattered. In the marketplace of ideas and having a meaningful conversation, these people are unarmed. When asked why do some members of Stormfront hide their faces with masks or whatever they could put in front of their faces walking from the parking lot to the recreation center, Irwin said when you start to debate them and they start talking about taking out other races, they know it’s not their time anymore. “They don’t want their bosses to know what they represent. I believe two reasonable people can have a meaningful debate. But they don’t want that. They are set on rallies to spread their hate message,” replied Irwin. When asked if the counter protesters would return tomorrow (Sunday, October 1, 2017) as the conference is scheduled to conclude then, Irwin said yes. “We already won when we exposed where they were meeting yesterday. They were not allowed in one restaurant last night because we exposed them here in Crossville. They know they are not welcomed here or anywhere else for that matter. It’s a victory here for immigrants and anyone who stands for what is right,” said Irwin.
Billy Roper, who organized the Stormfront conference at the state park in Crossville commented on last night’s event. “To the business owners, we understand the pressure they were put under last night and we do not hold any hard feelings. However, they lost a few thousand dollars from lost business from us. We are not terrorists and nothing bad would have happened. It was the business owners that were the victims of domestic terrorism here because they were afraid to serve us. We had a nice dinner at another restaurant in Crossville and things went well there,” said Roper.
Roper then commented on the purpose of the meeting at the state park. “We are planning for the preservation of the white race especially given how things are in the nation today. It’s our right to meet and discuss things that pertain to us in a peaceful manner,” said Roper.
Roper then went on to state that they were not afraid of the counter protesters made up of all walks of life this afternoon at the state park. However, Roper addresses one certain group being the LGBT. “They are “abominations” simply. They hate us because normal people see them as freaks. They hate the basis of what this nation was founded on. Roper ended his statement with a change in his voice and look. “Their time is short. Ultimately people are waking up and in time we will take America back.”
When asked about what was on their agenda for the meeting, Ropers replied that they were instructing their members about how to get petitions for referendums to put on ballots, how their members can go about running for office and setting goals of how to return to the vision of how the founding fathers of the United States wanted this nation to be.
As of 4 p.m. central time today (Saturday, September 30, 2017), both sides continue to be separated and no incidents or physical altercations have been reported despite heckling by the counter protesters.
The Crossville Police Department released the following statement last night about the white nationalists:
“On the morning of Friday, September 29th, 2017, the City of Crossville Police Department received information in reference to the possibility that members of a white nationalist, white supremacist and neo-Nazi group could be meeting in the Crossville, TN area throughout the weekend. Additionally, a militant political movement of autonomous, self-styled anti-fascist groups, could be arriving to protest such a meeting, though no protests have been scheduled that we have been made aware of. The City of Crossville Police Department, working in conjunction with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway patrol have coordinated efforts to maintain the peaceful protection of rights for both of these groups and for those of the citizens and visitors of the City of Crossville should any violent protests arise. We ask that those in attendance at any of the scheduled, or any unscheduled events maintain a peaceful and respectful decorum and, though all involved parties have a legal right to express their opinions and exercise their freedoms, our residents, visitors and law enforcement professionals needn’t suffer in the wake of any type of violence. Any legal, peaceful meetings and/or protests will be allowed only in public areas or in areas where specific permissions have been secured, from property owners/managers, by those organizing any said events and/or protests. The City of Crossville Police Department will be vigilant in the protection of the public and the protection of the property and rights of all parties. If any violence is observed, we are asking that notifications be made to law enforcement as soon as possible, by dialing 911. At no time will public streets, sidewalks or property be allowed to be rendered impassable by any groups, for any reason. The safety and protections of the general public will continue to be our top priority. Please contact the City of Crossville Police Department with any questions at (931) 484-7231.”
The white nationalist are expected to conclude their meeting in Cumberland County tomorrow (Sunday, October 1, 2017).
A counter protester holds a sign during the white nationalist meeting at Cumberland Mountain State Park
Counter protesters at 9 a.m. this morning being very vocal to the white nationalists
The recreation room at the state park where the white nationalist met. The media and counter protesters were kept at a distance from the meeting.
Bill Roper (wearing suit) walks to a vehicle prior to the group meeting
A Crossville police officer keeping a counter protester from approaching the while nationalist group during the protest