Rally Provokes Old Memories

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) -- One fact is indisputable, Channon Christian and her boyfriend Christopher Newsom, were white.

The four suspects charged with kidnapping, beating, raping, and killing them, are black.

Prosecutors and police have insisted that the crimes aren't racially motivated, but again today, outside groups of white separatists and supremacist rallied downtown, protesting that it was a hate crime, that demands national outrage.

For many, the rally was an undesired trip back in time.

"We're white people!, said Pastor Ken Gregg who organized the rally. "We founded this land and we're not going to take it!"

Deja vu in downtown Knoxville.

"You animals, you better crawl back in your hole," Gregg said.

"Knoxville doesn't want you, go home!" came the shouts from counter protesters.

Outside the city-county building it was white supremacists declaring their belief in "white pride" against the counter protesters.

"I'm a Knoxvillian," said Gloria McDonald, firmly against the rally, "We don't stand for this."

"This is about black on white crime," said Pastor Gregg.

Specifically the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, which is the reason Pastor Ken Gregg organized this second go-around.

"Yahweh, who's our God, inspired our people to stand-up because our people are being murdered all over the world."

He read's each sign, and shout's to show the young couple's murder was "a hate crime.

For veteran protester Gloria McDonald, it's tough talk to handle.

"I marched with Martin Luther King," McDonald said. "I marched with Malcolm X."

Today's sights and even the sounds were an unwelcome trip back in time.

"We did this in the 60s, McDonald said, "I did this in the 50s, I'm retired. I went somewhere for nice climate. I came down here and I ran into this."

But the hatred's is new for some.

"I wanted to see the manifestation of the hate in world and learn how to deal with it," said Whitney Simpson who attended the rally.

Police say today's rally was peaceful, but the future remains uncertain.

"I believe in white power," said protester Tim Pratt.

"History," Gloria McDonald said, "it will repeat itself."

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