Hours after a “White Lives Matter” rally unfolded Saturday in Shelbyville, Tenn. — resulting in lots of counterprotesters, but no violence — a fight broke out between a smaller group of white supremacists and an interracial couple at a restaurant in Brentwood, about 50 miles to the north.
The couple, a 30-year-old white woman and a 37-year-old black man, were dining inside the Corner Pub when a group of about 20 to 30 white men and women came in and sat at a table behind them, according to a statement by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
The 30-year-old woman later told police that one of the group members asked her to “guess” and that she responded “white lives matter,” police said.
“Another said ‘that’s right’ and told her to join their table and leave her boyfriend,” police said in a statement. “The argument inside apparently escalated even after the female victim had gone outside to de-escalate the situation.”
Police said another woman from the self-identified “white lives matter” group began to argue with the 30-year-old woman, who was then reportedly punched in the face by a man, causing a cut above her eye. She did not seek medical treatment, police said.
The fight was captured on video by Annelise Werme, a Tennessee resident who said she had driven to Brentwood to escape “the rally chaos” farther south. While at the Corner Pub, Werme said she recognized a group of white supremacists walk into the restaurant.
“These guys, maybe 20 of them, dressed in all black, paraded through to an adjoining room, and immediately started harassing a biracial [interracial] couple there,” Werme wrote in Facebook post that has since been widely shared. “It broke out into a huge fight with them busting open the face of the white girl who was furious with them for harassing them. I honestly can’t believe this is happening. My heart hurts.”
Werme posted a picture of the group of men filing into the restaurant, along with video of the altercation after it had apparently spilled out onto the street. Footage showed a tight cluster of people, shoving one another and appearing to shout. At one point, a woman is pushed back against a window of the pub and blood is visible on her face.
“Oh, my God, they’re — she’s bleeding,” a man inside the restaurant says in the video.
Werme did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday afternoon.
By the time officers arrived at the restaurant, all of the parties involved in the altercation were gone; however, the 30-year-old woman later returned to the Corner Pub to file a report, police said.
An investigation into the assault is ongoing. Police said they are looking for the man who punched the woman, and described him as a white male in his 30s wearing a black jacket and black jeans. The female victim told police that people in the group left the scene in multiple cars, including a white van with a Wisconsin license plate and a sedan with a New York license plate.
Jerry Grim, the manager of Corner Pub, told The Washington Post the restaurant was about half full when the fight broke out.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know much other than some people were eating and that turned into an argument,” Grim said. “Everything was fine and then all of sudden people started talking and everyone was yelling.”
He said an incident like that is extremely unusual for the pub.
“This is a family sports bar. We’ve got kids, babies in here . . . we all cheer for our teams,” he said. “It’s a nice place to come.”
In a phone interview late Saturday with Mic reporter Jack Smith IV, white nationalist leader Matthew Heimbach disputed claims their group had started the fight at the pub, instead blaming the black man who was part of the interracial couple. Heimbach claimed their group tried to de-escalate the situation — and that the woman who was bloodied “jumped in and took swings at people.”
Heimbach told Smith their group did not report anything to police.
Fears of violence had plagued officials and residents of Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tenn., leading up to the “White Lives Matter” rallies. (A second rally planned for Murfreesboro was canceled Saturday.) Most wanted to avoid the same disastrous outcome in Charlottesville, when a “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12 turned deadly after a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 other people.
As The Post’s Wesley Lowery reported from Shelbyville, about twice as many counterprotesters as “White Lives Matter” participants showed up Saturday, ultimately overwhelming them:
Throughout the morning, the counterprotest oscillated between mocking the rally and drowning it out with music. At various points, they played the “Ghostbusters” song, Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” and the theme song to “Jeopardy.” When the rally’s speakers tried to address the crowd they were drown out by “black lives matter” chants. In between speakers, organizers teased the white supremacists.
“Yo, Nazis!” a counterprotester with a megaphone shouted. “How does it feel knowing your daughters are probably all at home listening to rap music and hanging out with their black boyfriends right now?”
“It was an effective show of force,” counterprotester Kubby Barry, 39, told Lowery. “It was important to show up and show people that we don’t stand for their message.”