Emails Show That Cops Focused on Counterprotesters at Tennessee Rally but Were Totally Cool With Nazis

White nationalists attend the Traditionalist Worker Party’s “White Lives Matter” rally on Oct. 28, 2017, in Shelbyville, Tenn.
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

Newly discovered emails show that law enforcement officials planning the security for a Tennessee college event featuring hate group the Traditionalist Worker Party were much more concerned about the anti-racism counterprotesters than with the now-defunct neo-Nazi organization responsible for deaths and injuries at rallies across the country.

Documents included in media collective Unicorn Riot’s Freedom of Information request show emails between the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, other law enforcement agencies and campus safety officials planning for a March 2018 event at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and they were pretty relaxed about Nazis coming to town.


The Traditionalist Worker Party is a neo-Nazi group that advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world’s problems. It is headed by Matthew Heimbach, a white nationalist who attacked a woman at a Donald Trump rally; organized a Sacramento, Calif., event where two people were stabbed; and most famously participated in violence at the Charlottesville, Va., Unite the Right rally in 2017.


The emails show that the TWP appeared at an event in February hosted by students from UTK. The Nazis planned to return to the school in March to address a panel discussion on campus and solve the problem of “white nationalists being fired across the country ... many losing their homes.” There were no grammar workshops planned.

In one email, Tennessee Office of Homeland Security intelligence analyst Misty Phillips responded about neo-Nazi protesters attending the panel, writing that the “TWP is typically not the issue but. rather, opposing groups,” adding that the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, would provide a dozen officers for the event.


Phillips also wrote that that the “TWP is very good about communicating with the venue in which they plan to attend,” despite the fact that the earlier February event was booked under the name of a local church and not the TWP. But then again, what else would you expect from a woman named Misty who lives in Tennessee?

Screenshot: Unicorn Riot

Unicorn Riot also noted that message boards on the TWP’s chat site showed Heimbach telling TWP members that he had already “talked to the cops,” later informing his members that if anti-racists showed up, it would be the counterprotesters who caught the brunt of police violence: “So basically I think if the Reds act up, they are gonna get billy clubbed … so, can’t complain.”

But he was probably just bullshitting. Nazis aren’t known for telling the truth, right?


Well, on the day of the event, just as Heimbach predicted, the peaceful counterprotesters were the ones who were rounded up by the cops.


Unicorn Riot reports that neither the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security nor Misty Phillips responded to its request for comment.

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Michael Harriot

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.