TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WATE) — Claiborne County community members have been reaching out to the WATE newsroom with concerns about a flyer that has been circulating around that area and on social media.
The flyer states that a rally hosted by a Ku Klux Klan group will take place on private property in Claiborne County.
Local law enforcement had a meeting Wednesday to talk about safety measures. They say there’s nothing they can do about the rally since its being held on private property, but they can take measures to make sure the community is safe.
“We don’t condone this but unfortunately we can’t stop it under the First Amendment,” said Claiborne County Sheriff Bob Brooks.
Brooks, Claiborne County Mayor Joe Brooks, Tazewell City Mayor Bill Fannon, and Tazewell City Police Chief Jeremy Myers released a joint statement Tuesday about the flyer that was circulating.
In their letter, they say they “find this type of activity to be morally reprehensive; we also realize there is little to be done to stop it from occurring.”
“I’ve been burned up by emails, people emailing me saying they can’t believe they’re allowing this to happen and we’re not allowing it to happen, it’s just happening and we’re just dealing with it,” said Brooks. He adds that as long as the rally remains on private property, his hands are tied.
However, his team and other law enforcement are preparing for any situation.
“If things go bad, officers are going to be placed and how we’re going to work together with Tazewell and the City New Tazewell, and the state, THP,” said Brooks.
Community members say they aren’t happy the group is in the community and hope their message of disapproval will discourage the group from coming.
Bruce Stone, a community member, and the Claiborne County Democratic Party Chairperson said, “I’m hopeful that by the weekend, the mayor and the sheriff will have reasoned with these folks, and simply ask them not to do this here.”
The sheriff is discouraging any type of counter-protest.
“Stay home,” he said. “Don’t give them the attention they seek.”
Brooks adds that if anything goes astray, his team will be ready.
“Just rest assured that we’ll do our jobs to keep everybody as safe as we can and in no way is this kind of racial bigotry welcome here in Claiborne County.”
We did reach out to members of the group organizing the event. They tell us this is not a street march, but a peaceful rally in a field on private property.