NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – For two Middle Tennessee towns, time is ticking to prepare for groups of white nationalists.
Every year, this time of year, fall decorations pop up in the Shelbyville town square.
“A lot of people are putting that sign up to let people know how we feel,” said Cliff Hirst, the manager of an antique mall on the square.
On Oct. 28, several white nationalist groups will descend on Middle Tennessee towns for rallies supporting white lives matter.
“Our town is small. We didn’t expect that to take place here,” said Hirst.
Some businesses are pushing back with signs saying “Boo to Hate”.
“Hopefully people will be able to stand up against hate and feel that they have their voice heard,” said Sharon Edwards.
Edwards, a Shelbyville native, is asking business owners to put the sign on their store front so protesters know they are not welcome.
“We want to stand up to them and say, not only do we not appreciate you choosing Shelbyville to do this, we take issue with your ideology,” explained Edwards.
Edwards said the rally is putting a dark light on her town.
“You can come yell your venom here but it does not reflect who we are as people,” Edwards told News 2.
In order to protect free speech and public safety, the city says they will allow the League of the South to protest on one side of Highway 231 and the counter-protestors on the other.
Still, some businesses are not risking staying open.
“Most of the shop owners have talked to each other. A few chose to stay open, others chose to close,” Hirst said.
Edwards believes it is sad that we have to have this conversation in 2017.
“To stand in front of a crowd and proclaim that there is a superior race and I am part of it and no one else should have a citizenship, that is definitely going back,” said Edwards.
That is why she is planning her own rally of unity and hopes their message will outside the other message that she calls hate.
“So that when the white supremacists drive by, they can see signs that the city itself does not welcome them here,” explained Edwards.
The group released a statement saying they are protesting what they call the “recent black-on-white church shooting in Antioch.”
Edwards said she is going the their city council meeting this week to ask members to adopt a proclamation in opposition to the group’s message.
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