Security forces were out at the University of Tennessee as a self-proclaimed white nationalist spoke at an event on campus.
Protesters condemning the event were also present.
Rick Tyler ran for the third district of Tennessee in Congress in 2016 and put up a billboard along Highway 411 reading “Make America White Again.”
Tyler rented space on the University of Tennessee campus Tuesday evening for an event called “White Nationalism: Fact or Fiction.” He is not affiliated with any campus group and was not invited to speak at the university.
Tyler says his point is to call out myths surrounding white nationalism, but wouldn’t give a straight answer when asked by WATE 6 On Your Side’s Blake Stevens if he believes white people are superior to other races.
Tyler said there’s nothing wrong with being proud of being white and believes the United States was never meant to be a diverse melting pot.
The event was set to run for four hours and campus police set up barricades outside the Alumni Memorial Building.
Protesters were at the barricades to condemn the event.
Several held signs expressing the condemnation of racism, facism, and more as they stood and chanted at the barricades Tuesday evening during the event.
“My hope is that we can keep our students safe. That’s really my biggest concern is keeping students safe and keeping their well-being under control and letting them know that they’re okay, and we’re here,and they’re not alone,” said grad student Jennifer Hightower.
Tyler claims his views aren’t about hate, but if you were to go to his website, you’d see things about encouraging more white immigration and keeping a white majority to ensure the country’s survival. He also says the event is part of a presidential run and he plans to speak at several colleges around the country.
UT Interim President Randy Boyd tweeted about the event Tuesday, saying it had no place at the university:
White nationalism and hate have no place at our university. We strongly condemn any and all hate speech and attempts to incite violence. We stand united to ensure all students, faculty and staff are supported and feel welcome on our campuses. https://t.co/3uuXMMNaLz — UT Interim President Randy Boyd (@UT_President) May 28, 2019
There was a heavy police prescience on campus in anticipation of protests.
There were no reports of injuries or arrests.