The president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the NAACP, urged local residents to stay away from a planned rally here by the Nationalist Socialist Movement in August.
James R. Mapp said the group seeks to provoke incidents and said counter-protests could lead to problems.
Mr. Mapp said, "On April 8th, 2014, reports surfaced throughout the Chattanooga-Hamilton County region that the Nationalist Socialist Movement had scheduled several events to occur in the area on April 25-26. One of these planned events includes a public rally to take place on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Hamilton County Courthouse. The stated purpose of this rally is anti-Immigration. While many individuals and groups have questioned the wisdom and logic of our elected leaders in granting permission for this rally to take place, the reasoning conveyed to the community was that Constitutional rights and legal considerations had to be respected because the Constitution, even at times when there are issues and persons you do not agree with, cannot be arbitrarily relegated to subjectivity, and should be affirmed for each and every person.
"In response to this public declaration, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP consulted with federal law enforcement agencies as well as respected national organizations that monitor such groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. In fact, the SPLC has labeled this group as 'provocateurs' because negative actions are often 'provoked' because of their presence. In addition, the NAACP has participated in an intensive public outreach campaign which includes conversations with many like-minded civic groups in the African- American, Latino and Jewish communities.
"We also dually understand that there is conversation throughout the Greater Chattanooga community in holding counter protests, rallies, and prayer vigils that are meant to serve as a response to this and other community concerns. While we respect the spirit of each individual person's and each group's convictions, the SPLC specifically referenced instances such as the Toledo riot of 2005 as an example of how well-intentioned objectives can take a terrible turn for the worse and often results in arrests, harm and injures to well-meaning individuals. After consulting with all of these aforementioned groups and organizations, one theme is readily clear and has been repeatedly affirmed, during their duration in the Chattanooga area, the best recourse the public can make at this time is to simply stay away and refrain from contact with the NSM or like-minded groups and individuals. We especially want that message to be conveyed to our 'young people.'
"The sole objective we all must undertake at this time is to ensure the general safety and welfare of the public at-large, and to see that the presence of these groups in our region occurs, 'without incident.' We have been assured by various sectors of law enforcement that a public safety plan is in place, and if the unfortunate circumstance arises that members of the community do cross paths with this or like-minded groups, we urge you to immediately contact an appropriate member of law enforcement so that it may be documented at once. Likewise, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP does see the need to address and highlight issues of concern in our community, and in the future looks forward to working with all groups in all communities who want to see a more vibrant, productive and sustainable community."