Neo-Confederate group cancels planned protest at Sycamore Shoals

Published 4:49 pm Sunday, September 23, 2018

An anticipated protest at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park that garnered traction on social media is no longer scheduled to take place.

In a statement issued by League of the South President Michael Hill, the organization announced publicly Sunday, Sept. 23, that their planned rally at the state park has been cancelled.

“A few days ago, we received word from State and local authorities in Tennessee that we must 1) purchase insurance to hold our event and 2) must agree to an open-ended “bill” for security at Sycamore Shoals State Park. Neither are acceptable to use for some simple reasons. First, the insurance policy we would be forced to purchase was $400 per month for a minimum for 12 months for a total outlay of $4,800. Second, the State authorities told us we would be on the hook for an “open-ended bill” for whatever security they thought necessary for the event at the park; only fools would agree to such a deal,” Hill said via a post of the organization’s website.

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Concerns about the demonstration stemmed from a long line of events that the League have participated in. Deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the League has several state chapters and participated in different well-document protests, including Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly, and most recently serving as an anti-protest group to the Knoxville Pride Rally. The organization was also in attendance at the recent inaugural TriPride festival in Johnson City.

Tom Pierce, Tennessee League chapter president, recently told the Elizabethton Star via email that the planned rally was going to be in response to “Johnson City rapidly becoming a diverse and anti-traditional town” and a Confederate statue on the University of North Carolina campus being taken down by protesters.

Just a couple of days prior to the League’s announcement, a counter protest group announced online they would have to cancel their intended rally.

The Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park website currently has an alert posted that states the park’s visitor center and Fort Watauga will be closed on Saturday due to a “large scale event” and the park will reopen on Sunday. A request on the closure was sent to the TDEC Sunday evening. Any further updates on the closure will appear in the Tuesday print edition of the Elizabethton Star.

Prior to the announcement that the rallies would be cancelled, representatives from the City of Elizabethton stated they were willing to provide the necessary protection and cooperate with the state for the safety of everyone that would have been at the park and surrounding area.