WHITE SUPREMACIST DOMESTIC TERROR GANGS JOIN WITH NAZIS IN ANTI-DRAG DEMONSTRATION
WHERE WERE THE POLICE?!
On Sunday, January 22nd, 2023, Upper Cumberland Pride presented a fundraiser event at Hix Farms Brewery in downtown Cookeville, TN. This “Drag Me to Brunch” event, featuring local performers, was put together to help UCPride with their efforts in making the college-town community of Cookeville more welcoming, open, and affirming – to help establish a safe haven for those in Middle Tennessee and at the university that brings that community such a wealth of economic prosperity, Tennessee Tech University.
That safe haven and welcoming effort was put to the test Sunday when local radicalized religious extremists showed up to protest the LGBTQ+ community. Three members of a local church first arrived, followed by a handful more, within the hour. Shortly after that, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort, gangs of terrorist organizations began to arrive, one after the other.
The Proud Boys, a white supremacist ultra-nationalist gang of men the FBI labels as “involuntary celibates”, or “incels”, arrived brandishing their yellow and black colors, masks, and propaganda. One even brandished a shield, in Proud Boy colors, that was in the style of the patriotic superhero icon, Captain America, whose entire persona was originally fighting fascists and Nazis.
Almost immediately after The Proud Boys arrived, a dangerous group of Nazis wearing skull-masks and brandishing Fascist, anti-Christian and occult symbols arrived, shaking hands with the incels, greeting the others who arrived in solidarity with their cause. Sean Kauffmann, the self-proclaimed Fuhrer of a social media gang he calls “Tennessee Active Club”, walked onto the scene, sent up a Nazi salute, then greeted the Proud Boys by calling them “brother”. Kauffmann, a known Nazi with swastika and occult tattoos, has been at several drag events in Middle and East Tennessee in recent months manipulating evangelical Christian anti-LGBTQ+ bigoty to serve his own Nazi agenda.
Arriving at the same time as the Nazis was Billy Beals, of Chattanooga, another dangerous violent extremist and insurrectionist. Beals, a representative of the Three Percenters (III%), another white supremacist domestic terrorist organization with ties to violent extremist ideals, crossed the street to agitate attendees and venue staff, making threats of violence and worse.
Within the hour, another group of incels, the domestic terrorist white supremacist group Patriot Front marched and chanted onto the scene waving various versions of America’s flag and anti-LGBTQ+ banners and signs in an attempt to terrorize and bully locals.
Despite the barrage of personalized threats, hate speech, harassment, and these radicalized domestic terrorist threats bullying the local community, local Cookeville law enforcement only drove by several times in the span of a few hours and offered no support. In fact, the only significant police presence in Cookeville on Sunday was when I, personally, was leaving town and was “escorted” to the interstate. Instead of local law enforcement protecting the community from Nazis, a volunteer community defense coalition was arranged by organizers to ensure the threat to Hix and individuals was kept at a distance and, in light of recent national tragedies, enabled everyone involved to arrive and depart alive and safe.