On Jan 12, the Antifascist Unity Coalition will voice concerns at hearing of stifling First Amendment rights to the benefit of hate groups holding conferences, like the American Reniassance Conference which will take place May 21-23 outside Nashville.
The Antifascist Unity Coalition (AUC), a coalition of organizers from around the country fighting hate and bigotry, is opposed to new rules proposed for Tennessee state parks and will participate in a rulemaking hearing that will be held virtually by the Department of Environment and Conservation on Jan. 12, 2021 at 11 AM CST. Those new rules of concern state that certain public areas, according to the language, “are not intended to be open places for free expression by or between citizens” and any activities, particularly protests that “unreasonable impairment of public use facilities.”
Our reporting on the white nationalist American Renaissance conference includes a slide show of photos we got of some of the attendees.
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In recent years White supremacist and neo-fascist groups have used Tennessee state parks to hold conferences and other events. Two of them, Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill and Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, are listed among six parks mentioned in the rules that have resort-related facilities and listed those locations as “non-public forums” in the rules that any protests of more than 25 will be illegal. Henry Horton Park was where participants of a hate rally in October 2017, two months after the tragic “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, went for an after event, while Montgomery Bell Park has been the location for almost a decade for the American Renaissance (AmRen) Conference, and for two years where a joint conference with the Council of Conservative Citizens and American Freedom Party were held. The 2017 AmRen conference featured organizers of the Charlotteville rally which was held two weeks later. The next one will be taking place once again at Montgomery Bell Park on May 21-23, 2021.
In recent years, as the hate conferences in Montgomery Bell were held, park officials have closed off the conference center and restaurant to the public despite the fact that such facilities were to remain open and available, ironically making those conferences an “unreasonable impairment of public use facilities.”
“While Nazis, White supremacists and neo-Confederates are protected in engaging in hate speech and violent hate organizing in Tennessee state parks, these proposed rules would stop anyone who is against their message from speaking their mind in those same parks,” AUC organizer Beth Foster said.
AUC members and supporters will be on hand to address the hearing in the hopes that such rules are not adopted and should the conference take place, those opposing them will be able to voice their opinions without restraint.