NASHVILLE, Tennessee–A small band of Antifa protesters showed up for a May Day demonstration Monday at Nashville’s downtown Public Square Park, but they were far outnumbered by flag-waving American patriots.
Antifa, which stands for anti-fascist, is a movement that has led in recent months to violent clashes and arrests in other cities across the country, especially in California. A far left socialist movement, Antifa rails against capitalism and broadly characterizes those with opposing views as fascist.
Monday was a day of left-leaning and socialist protests across the nation on behalf of workers and immigrants.
Officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department were out in force late Monday afternoon and efficiently managed the crowds at Public Square Park, preventing the demonstration from spinning out of control.
There were only about a dozen Antifa protesters in addition to a handful of other left-leaning protesters. The Antifa protesters covered their faces with bandanas and some carried baseball bats. The patriots were the first to arrive and stood in military-like formation to greet the arriving Antifa protesters, who then took to the steps of the courthouse. Police on bicycles formed a barricade between the two groups and later police on motorcycles arrived. The patriots, who eventually numbered more than 50, thanked the police and some shook their hands.
The two groups shouted at each other with taunts and insults but there was no violence. In response to an Antifa protester declaring she did not pledge allegiance to any flag, the patriots recited in unison the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag. The Antifa movement, however, does have its own flag, which was on display Monday.
Leftist protester Daryl Jenkins came separately toting a Mexican flag. “Mexico is connected to America,” he said. “It’s all one continent. We all need to get along.” Jenkins said President Trump is “just working for rich old white people.”
The patriots had messages of their own that showed support for Trump and American values and made fun of leftist leaders and causes.
Connor Poe waved a sign reading, “Bernie Sanders owns more homes than there are genders.”
“He’s a hypocrite,” Poe said of the equality-preaching Sanders, who owns at least three houses.
Brandy Roof drove from Huntsville, Alabama, to join the patriots on Monday. She carried a sign reading “Spoiled Juvenile Whiners,” a play on Social Justice Warriors. Roof said she learned about the protest on Facebook.
Emily Major came with her 11-year-old son, who was wearing a t-shirt depicting Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Major said she has been bothered by the menacing words and violent actions of Antifa protesters in other cities.
“We wanted them to know we don’t welcome that in Nashville,” she said. “We’re a nation of laws. They’re not going to destroy our city.”
The Antifa crowd later marched down Deaderick Street and climbed the steps of the Capitol. The police accompanied them and the patriots followed with shouts of “USA! USA!” After a short time, the Antifa protesters left as the patriots yelled, “Bye, bye!” and claimed victory.