Two groups plan to protest an organization known for its white separatism and supremacist policies at Montgomery Bell State Park Friday and Saturday.
The annual conference for American Renaissance, which also goes by AmRen and labels its views as “race realism,” will be at the park’s conference center for the second straight year.
One protest group, the Coalition to Shut Down AmRen, in association with Austin Peay Students for a Democratic Society, plans a protest for Friday and Saturday outside the conference center.
A second group, Not in Our State, plans a “counter conference” in the park Saturday at the office pavilion near the entrance off Highway 70.
AmRen produces a magazine and a website, which states that there are genetic and biological differences between whites and non-whites and that whites are superior both in intellect and personality. They aspire to a philosophy of eugenics, which advocates the improvement of inherited traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of more desired people.
Meg Lockhart, spokesperson for the park, said the park is open to all of the public as long as they abide by park rules.
“Our primary goal is to ensure our park patrons understand that we appreciate their concerns and their patience. Clearly we value our customers,” said Lockhart. “Montgomery Bell State Park is a public park and state owned; we can’t discriminate against who can and can’t use the park’s facilities as long as groups and individuals follow the park’s policies and rules.”
“Not in Our State” media liaison Dorsey Malina said the speakers and academics were picked to counter AmRen’s message and specifically in Tennessee.
“AmRen is the kind of organization that we want to bring to light and educate people about. It’s happening right in our own backyard,” said Malina. “Tennessee is more tolerant than this, and we are embarrassed that AmRen believes Tennessee is an ideal place for white supremacy.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center ranks AmRen as a hate group. The SPLC is a nonprofit civil rights organization in Alabama, which is regularly referenced by major media outlets in determining which organizations can be described as a “hate group.”
However, AmRen leaders do not see it that way.
According to their website: “The problems of race cannot be solved without adequate understanding. Attempts to gloss over the significance of race or even to deny its reality only make problems worse. Progress requires the study of all aspects of race, whether historical, cultural, or biological. This approach is known as race realism.”
To date, about 15 academics and advocates for Not in Our State have signed on to make presentations, covering topics ranging from race and the death penalty to state efforts to criminalize immigrants to transphobia.
PROTEST TIMES, DAYS
Not in Our State protest
Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the office pavilion at Montgomery Bell State Park
Coalition to Shut Down
Friday 4-6 p.m.
Saturday 5:30-7 p.m.
(Both days outside the park conference center)