Stop the Rise of Hate

anti nazi rally tessa speaks for website 800 x 600

It was a cold Saturday afternoon when the neo-Nazis—about two dozen of them—rallied in Nashville for “the great white South.” They waved black flags with swastikas, chanted obscene racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic slurs, and kept their faces well-hidden as they marched toward Nashville’s Legislative Plaza.

Several lawmakers, interfaith leaders, and others joined together the following Monday to decry the rise of emboldened hate groups in the state. They stood in Legislative Plaza because they wanted to “reclaim the space,” says Tessa Lemos Del Pino, executive director of ILJ affiliate Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors.

“What we witnessed,” she told the gathered crowd, “was the direct result of politicians spreading misinformation and hate messages about immigrants.”

The people of Tennessee JFON are on a mission to defeat the spread of this misinformation through their advocacy efforts, legislative visits, press interviews, and participation in public forums.

tnjfon staff, board and volunteers meet with rep aftyn behn croppedLast month, they organized their first Lobby Day at the state legislature.

Their focus was on providing legislators with the tools—and the facts—to combat misinformation and falsehoods about immigrants.

This level of advocacy requires a great deal of legislative research, which falls on Advocacy and Education Coordinator Hannah Smalley.

“You do this work because the people you love will be impacted by it—hopefully in a good way,” says Hannah.

“But this is my city and my state. I’m not going to just sit around and let bad things happen here. There is no option except to keep working to make things better.”

Pictured above are TN State Representative Aftyn Behn (center) with Tessa, Hannah, and Board Member María Escamilla

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