It was impossible to ignore.
The latest rally on Nashville’s War Memorial Plaza — this time to recognize Juneteenth and the final emancipation of all slaves — attracted a predominantly white audience.
“I see it as interesting,” says Nashvillian Nicole Lee, who is Black.
The gathering comes three weeks after the first energetic protests against police brutality in Nashville to respond to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And each protest since the first on May 30 has attracted white sympathizers.
But this one, while smaller, was also noticeably whiter.
One man, who is Black, tells WPLN News he was “disappointed” by the showing from other Black people.
But others see potential benefits in having white allies.
“I don’t want them to feel, like, sorry for us,” Lee says. “If they’re feeling it, that’s good with me. If they’re not feeling it, that’s good with me. We just want our respect.”
The marching begins. Headed to Lower Broadway (aka tourist Nashville) pic.twitter.com/J0KlSLACv0
— Blake Farmer (@flakebarmer) June 19, 2020
A Tense Ending
The law enforcement presence was scaled back from the previous weekend’s march through Lower Broadway, where protesters were met by city police lined up with riot shields in front of downtown honky tonks.
But after the official Juneteenth program concluded, dozens remained and faced off with state troopers protecting the state capitol. Many protesters have been focused on taking down the bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest inside the capitol.
The scene became so tense that members of the National Guard moved in to replace troopers and hold back the crowd. Some organizers continued to remind protesters to keep their actions peaceful.
Organizer Justin Jones, who has been camping out near the capitol for a week, eventually turned the crowd back.
More protests and gatherings are scheduled throughout the weekend.