Photos and story by Emma Benjamin / Contributing Writer
Murfreesboro Loves, a group that was founded just over two weeks ago, organized marches and counter-protests across Murfreesboro in reaction to the white nationalist rallies being held in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro on Saturday.
The group gathered at Barfield Crescent Park, and then marches were held in different parts of town, away from the “White Lives Matter” rally that was to be held in the City Square, but was later canceled.
“We don’t want white supremacists coming in here (and) driving the narrative for what happens in our community today,” said Jason Bennett, one of the Murfreesboro Loves event coordinators. “We want to drive the narrative for what happens in our community today.”
The protesters arrived at the park at 11 a.m., carrying signs that depicted symbols of peace and love. Leaders of the event began by organizing the protesters into groups to march around the city. One group marched down Church Street and the other down Old Fort Parkway.
“I think it’s important to show people of color and minorities that white people care about them and to show these people that are being aggressive that we don’t agree,” said Janie Kullmar, 22, one of the protestors marching down Church Street.
“As a black woman, I’ve never been to a protest where someone is protesting my existence and the existence of my neighbors, and I think it’s disgusting,” said Janiqua Wilson, 27, another protester who came out to march with Murfreesboro Loves. “I speak out on oppression and systemic racism all the time and thought it would be hypocritical to stay at home.”
After marching through the city, the Murfreesboro Loves group gathered back at the park for pizza, fellowship and live music.
A Murfreesboro Loves celebration dinner and concert was also held at Puckett’s on the Square on Sunday at 6 p.m.
In a statement on the organization’s Facebook page, Murfreesboro Loves thanked those who stood up against hate.
A portion of the statement read,
“We are committed to continuing to create space for conversation that brings us to a better place tomorrow.”
See a full gallery from the event below.
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