A protest over the weekend and flyers around town raised concern and conversation in Maryville. A handful of demonstrators with white nationalist signs and a Confederate flag stood outside First United Methodist Church. They were protesting an event there on Sunday where guest speaker Reverend David Billings was leading a discussion about racism in America. His book is titled “Deep Denial.”
People who attended the event said roughly 70 people participated in the discussion. Robert Hanye was angry when he stepped outside and saw the protesters.
“It was rather stark. It clearly made the point that it was worth having the conversation with Reverend Billings,” Hanye said.
On Saturday, Billings came to speak at Southland Books & Cafe. Owners said they found several flyers posted on their door on Sunday. One said “Diversity = White Genocide.”
“It was odd to be confronted with that level of ugliness at a place we have worked really hard for over two decades to build,” said owner Lisa Misosky.
Misosky said at least 50 people came to the book signing. She was shocked this ideology though is still around in her hometown.
“Maryville is better than this,” she said.
Misosky and Hanye felt this hate should not be tolerated and they hope people focus on the Billing’s message of inclusion rather than this groups’ beliefs.
“There is so much diversity that that is the reality that we need to deal with and we just need to accept people as they are and move on,” Hanye said.
The group was holding a banner with the name of a white supremacist group called National Alliance. A representative sent WATE 6 On Your Side the following statement:
“There were no National Alliance members at the protest, but some people in the community asked to borrow our banner because they wanted the public to know that there is an alternative to the anti-white bullying and shaming being done by David Billings and his Marxist-linked group, “The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.”