White pride group's meeting in East Tennessee causes controversy

White pride group's meeting in East Tennessee causes controversy

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By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - A white pride seminar will be held in East Tennessee this weekend. Some of the speakers are a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, a former KKK attorney and a white pride radio host.

The seminar is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Sevier County, but it doesn't come without controversy.

The meeting is called a Stormfront seminar. It's organized by the developer of the website stormfront.org. The site is one of the oldest and largest white pride websites in the world.

This is the second year in a row the group has held its seminar in Sevier County.

Terry Wright has lived in Sevier County for 22 years. She doesn't support the white pride movement and wishes the seminar wasn't being held near her home.

"I do feel that there's freedom of speech so as much as I wouldn't like to be associated with the group, I do feel that they have the right to free assembly," Wright said.

Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the civil rights organization called the Anti-Defamation League, says the seminar may draw 150 people from hundreds of miles away, due to a re-energized white power movement.

"They have not grown so much in numbers, but the white supremacists that do exist have grown more agitated and angry. The election of an African-American president and the economic crisis that we're in provided the trigger," Pitcavage explained.

Stormfront.org calls the meeting a practical politics seminar.

Pitcavage says the meeting may include workshops on how to engage in political activities. He says white power groups will say they've changed initiatives over the years.

"They would say we are fighting to prevent extinction of the white race, not fighting to maintain dominance but fighting to prevent extinction," Pitcavage said.

He also says the white pride group chose to meet in East Tennessee because a couple of its members lobbied for the Smoky Mountains on the stormfront website.

"These people represent the fringe of the fringe. The fact they chose this place to hold this meeting does not necessarily mean there's a hotbed of activity," Pitcavage said.

"I certainly hope that it's peaceful. I do realize this is one of those type things that does tend to polarize people," Terry Wright said.

A Sevier County sheriff's detective says they're aware of the seminar, but they won't take additional security measures. Law enforcement officials do not expect any issues. They say last year, there were no problems.

The white pride group does not list exactly where they're staying on their website or the exact time the seminar begins.

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