By Clint Confehr
SHELBYVILLE, TN — Biden-Harris voters out-numbered those for Trump-Pence on Saturday at a rally prompted by Ku Klux Klan calling cards left here recently at a vandalized sign for Democrats.
“If you’re here, we assume you’re against hate,” Stephanie Isaacs, a founder of Shelbyville Loves, announced from the steps of the Bedford County Courthouse starting the rally at noon Oct. 17. “The KKK can’t thrive here,” Isaacs said.
Estimates of how many people attended the rally ranged from at least 50 to as many as 150-200. If there were 120 — as indicated by Bedford County Democratic Party chair Kay Janosik — then approximately 10% support the president. Three Republicans there said they had 12 in the area that police roped-off for the rally.
Rally speakers denounced threatening sentences on klan calling cards found a few blocks from the square: “You have been paid a social visit by the … Ku Klux Klan. Don’t make the next visit a business call.” Subsequently, Breana Green consulted friends in Shelbyville Loves about the cards, and organized their rally against hate. Green said she invited Bedford County Republicans, adding that the GOP could have a booth on the square.
Its slogan — Y’all Means All.
“I’m encouraged to see Republicans and Democrats coming together to universally condemn hate,” said Chas A. Williams of Murfreesboro, a self-described “classical liberal for freedom.” He continued, “Hate has no place in America. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on. White supremacists need to be hunted down. They are domestic terrorists and we have laws against that.”
He’s a former state House “citizen lobbyist” for conservative policies on health care; now a farmer. He said: “Everything should be privatized;” that he has Tennessee Walking Horses; and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., represents the industry well.
Challenging DesJarlais is Chris Hale of Murfreesboro who pointed to “Trump voters for Hale.” His slogan — Hale Yes.
“I’m a progressive Democrat, Christian populist outsider running in one of the most red and rural areas of the country,” Hale said. “I want to be a congressman with folks in my coalition who disagree with me, but they know I’ll fight for them and DesJarlais will not.”
Speaking in Shelbyville Loves’ program, Shanae Williams of Winchester announced reorganization of an NAACP branch there. Williams drove 32 miles to a rally that “turned out pretty-smooth” compared to uncertainty “especially with both sides there,” she said. “People were scared because of the cards and concerned about how the rally would go.”
It was “so tense” when men with Trump flags and hats arrived, said Williams who reported she “walked up to them and said ‘Lets take a picture’ with him holding his Trump flag and me holding a Biden-Harris flag.”
Thomas O’Donnell, 39, a Nashville electrician originally from upstate New York with relatives in Tennessee, quotes Williams as telling her friend she wasn’t “‘afraid to have a picture’ made with me.”
The Winchester organizer said O’Donnell and those with him “were there to denounced the KKK.” She said, “That was something we agree on. We wouldn’t agree on who we would vote for, but we could agree that we are against hate.” O’Donnell said: “We didn’t get deep into politics;” and he agreed with what she said.
Williams went to the rally after realizing Shelbyville and Bedford County elected leaders hadn’t denounced hate group cards left at the broken Biden-Harris sign.
“It was kind of like, ‘Whoa, why can’t our elected officials denounce that?’”
Isaacs, a candidate for city council, said if she’s elected she’ll put the question up for discussion.