Tennessee towns bracing for upcoming white nationalist rallies

Authorities and city officials in two Tennessee towns are bracing for possible clashes on Saturday when protesters and counter-protesters take to the streets for scheduled white nationalist rallies.

The "White Lives Matter" rallies were organized by white nationalist group League of the South, according to city officials, and are scheduled to take place Saturday in the cities of Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, located south of Nashville. Counter-protesters are also expected on the day of the rallies, officials said.

The rally will focus on issues such as last month’s deadly church shooting in Antioch, Tennessee, illegal immigration and refugee settlement in Middle Tennessee, the Shelby Police Department said in a press release.

Officials are asking that demonstrators on both sides "respect each other’s rights and respect the role of law enforcement in maintaining and peace and discouraging aggressive behavior, said Shelbyville City Manager Shanna Boyette in a video streamed on Facebook Friday.

Residents who live and work near protest sites are encouraged to err on the side of caution and avoid the areas, if possible.

League of the South President Michael Hill informed Shelbyville city officials that the group intended to hold a sidewalk rally on Oct. 28, according to a press release. Such a gathering does not require a permit or approval from the city.

In a statement, Hill instructed protesters to "obey all authorities charged with keeping public order," The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Stand your ground, speak your mind and proclaim your message, but do not initiate physical contact with anyone who opposes you,” he said. “Engage in violence, and at the proper level, only in defense of your own person, that of your compatriots, and your property.”

In downtown Murfreesboro, the League of the South is expected to be joined by other affiliated groups in its rally, the city said in a release.

Murfreesboro is home to Middle Tennessee State University, where resident halls will be locked due to the rally beginning Friday at 5 p..m. through Monday at 8 a.m., the university said in a press release.

"As the sixth fastest-growing mid-size community in the nation and home to MTSU, the largest undergraduate university in Tennessee, the city and county are proud of the community we are building and the diversity of its residents," the city press release stated.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will be present at the rallies and "visible as a show of force and support for local law enforcement agencies," said TBI Director Mark Gwyn in a statement.

Both cities stated that they have a responsibility to protect free speech rights and those who seek to exercise those rights.

"Given the recent incidents in our country surrounding protest and counter-protests, the city is taking very seriously multiple concerns regarding the safety of expected protesters, counter-protesters, the public, and the protection of private and public property from damage," Shelbyville officials said.

A white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August turned violent when a car plowed through a group of demonstrators.

Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in response to Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has not declared a state of emergency, but state authorities will be in close contact with local police, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Antioch woman convicted of using Alabama inmates’ info for tax returns

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An Antioch woman was convicted in federal court of using the personal information of Alabama state prisoners to file fraudulent tax returns.

It was an elaborate scheme that went on for at least two years.

The woman, Monique Annette Ellis, doesn’t have a criminal record in Tennessee and since has yet to be sentenced.

Her fake tax return scheme came to an end when U.S. Marshal raided her Antioch apartment.

Eight prisoners locked up in Alabama had no idea their personal information was being used in Tennessee.

“In this case, she received, somehow, and we don’t know how, the identity of eight inmates from the Alabama Department of Corrections and used those names, date of births, and social security numbers and file fraudulent tax returns for those inmates,” said Don Cochran, the newly-appointed United State Attorney for the Middle Tennessee District.

(Photo: WKRN)

The inmates didn’t receive a dime.

Federal attorneys said Ellis used her Antioch apartment to file the fake returns. During a raid of her home, agents confiscated computers, paperwork with the inmates’ personal information, and Ellis’ personal bank records.

She is alleged to have filed those returns electronically using Turbo Tax software.

According to her 16-count indictment, all the $1,464 refund amounts were identical, with the exception of two that were $21 less.

“There were a number of similarities the amounts were close to each other. The jobs she listed on the tax returns were all similar,” Cochran said.

(Photo: WKRN)

Ellis was convicted in federal court Tuesday on all charges, eight counts of wire fraud and eight counts of aggravated identity theft.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said this conviction sends a clear message.

“Certainly, we’ll prosecute those cases,” Cochran told News 2. “In this case, it involved theft of over $120,000 and the use of eight individuals that were stolen and used to defraud the government of that amount of money.”

U.S. attorneys say Ellis also used banks accounts with her minor son’s name as well as her adult son, who they said is mentally challenged, to deposit some of the money, and then she wrote checks to herself.

Those Alabama prisoners were not aware Ellis was using their personal information to file those tax returns. They were told about it once the government began their investigation.

The maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years on each count, and there’s a mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft.

Ellis will be sentenced in January 9, 2018.

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Why is no one talking about the alleged Tennessee church shooter’s religion?

Emanuel Samson is accused of killing one and wounding eight in a Tennessee church shooting. (CREDIT: AP PHOTO / METRO NASHVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT)

On Sunday, a masked gunman opened fire on a church in Antioch, Tennessee. With one dead and eight others wounded, the attack was the largest mass shooting at a church since Dylann Roof’s 2015 killings.

The alleged shooter, who injured himself in the shooting, has been identified as Emanuel Samson, a 25-year-old U.S. resident who moved to the U.S. from Sudan in 1996. Samson, still in custody, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.

While the motives for Samson’s alleged involvement in the shooting remain unknown, far-right figures and outlets have been eager to play up the racial angle, noting that Samson is African American and he targeted a predominately white church. Multiple conspiratorial Twitter accounts have further claimed that Samson is a Muslim, with one even incorrectly claiming he was a Muslim refugee, adding that “This is why we are grateful for EXTREME VETTING & thanks to @realDonaldTrump it got more extreme.”

But according to a Nashville police spokesperson, Samson recently attended church services, and was recognized by some of the parishioners in attendance. And according to his Facebook profile, Samson wasn’t shy about his religious beliefs – or the fact that he was a practicing Christian.

Most Christians, of course, disavow the type of violence Samson allegedly wrought. But Samson’s social media profile suggests he could be the latest in a string of professed Christians to target civilian populations in the United States.

For instance, in 2010, Samson wrote that he was “aiming at … becoming a preacher,” while multiple other status updates point to Samson’s affections for his Christian faith – with one noting that he’s a “church boy, that wants a church girl. As serious about God as I am, plain and simple.” Added Samson, “If youre [sic] not with God-then you’re not with me!”

Samson also had a raft of public interests pointing toward his faith, including having liked movies including The Passion of the Christ and Left Behind: The Movie. Other likes include groups ranging from “Jesus Christ” and “Resolved To Know Christ” to “I Love Jesus” and “Jesus the Savior.” Some of the other groups followed by Samson had more grammatically challenged names, including “Help put Jesus back in EVERYTHING!”, “JESUS IS LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if you know this is true press like. :)” and “Let’s join forces as Christians and start a Jesus Christ revival! Press like if Jesus is your Savior!!!”

The alleged shooter additionally liked only one book on Facebook: the Bible.

None of this means that Samson necessarily leaned on his Christian faith as justification for the mass shooting. There isn’t enough information about his motives to draw that conclusion.

However, the United States has seen a recent spate of domestic terror incidents specifically tied to fundamentalist Christianity, as well as the rise of white supremacist “Christian Identity” groups and individuals who, as ThinkProgress detailed in 2014, “spout scripture while engaging in horrifying acts of violence.”

The rise in violent acts committed by self-avowed Christians, ranging from plotting to bomb civil rights organizations in Oklahoma to plans to assassinate state officials in Washington to shooting sprees in Texas, has paralleled a broader spike in right-wing domestic terror incidents since the mid-2000s. As the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism recently found, some three-quarters of extremist-related murders from 2007-2016 were attributed to right-wing extremists – a rise, and a reality, to which the Trump administration has paid little heed.

Samson was not a white supremacist, and did not appear to be a member of any “Christian Identity” sect. But just like Roof’s church attack two years ago, Samson’s shooting further highlights the reality that what’s often called domestic terrorism is by no means confined to any specific ideology – nor, as we’ve seen, to any specific religion.

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Finding The Best In Tennessee Housing

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In the end, by doing a little legwork in advance and listening to the advice of those in the know, it really is possible to end up with Tennessee housing that fulfills even the most demanding of wish lists. After that, all that is left to do is start enjoying the history, culture and warmth of the Volunteer State.