Activists and clergy from a coalition of organizations said they will gather at the entrance to Montgomery Bell State Park in Dickson County on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. to condemn the “National Solutions Conference,” the second gathering of white supremacists at the park in as many months.
Scheduled conference speakers include former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, Bradley County-based “Make America White Again” politician Rick Tyler and South African white nationalist Simon Roche.
Activists said they expect to encounter dozens of militarized park rangers, state police, and Department of Corrections prison guards forming a perimeter with barricades around the part of the park in which the conference center, inn and restaurant are located.
They said that was the situation in 2018-19.
The “National Solutions Conference” is presented by the American Freedom Party and the Council of Conservative Citizens, both designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to Tyler’s website, “the overarching theme of the conference will center upon the superiority of ethnic nationalism.”
“All Tennesseans who believe in equality, justice, free speech and access to public accommodations for all people, all Tennesseans who oppose racism and the evil ideology of white supremacists, are invited to join us at 10:30 on Saturday morning,” Beth Foster of the Tennessee Anti-Racist Network said.
While the state and Tennessee State Parks say they cannot stop the gathering of white supremacists because of free speech requirements, Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project said the state "has gone to great lengths to deny free speech and freedom to access public facilities to those who oppose the white supremacists’ message. The shutting down of facilities includes denying access to restrooms and the state park inn to Tennessee residents who are not white supremacists."
Nashville attorney Will York said, “Restrooms and the lunch counter are public accommodations. By denying the public access to those facilities, the State of Tennessee is hearkening back to the 1950s sit-ins, when the state protected white business owners wanting to keep people of color from certain establishments.”