On April 29, the Traditional Workers Party, joined by the League of the South and other right-wing factions, held a rally in Pikeville, Kentucky. It was, as one would expect, met with much controversy and counter-protest. This rally was only a portion of a weekend-long conference which included sessions on various topics, such as national socialist ideology and self-defense. The event had been planned since February, with several counter-protests planned shortly after the TWP announced its intended presence; merely a couple of days before the event, however, most official efforts to counter the national socialists were canceled due to security concerns.
As everyone has learned in recent months, though, Antifa can always be counted on to show up to any form of right-wing demonstration, apparently even in small-town, rural Kentucky. Interesting enough, neither they nor the TWP seemed to have any locals within their ranks and were largely from out of town. This was understandably frowned upon by locals. “We wish everyone would go home peacefully and give our town back,” said one member of the Pikeville city council. Aside from the city passing an ordinance which banned masks, virtually all businesses in downtown Pikeville closed for the weekend to allow for maximum security and access of the streets for law enforcement. Pikeville, usually a quiet town, was likely chosen as the location for the conference because it is relatively more sheltered from leftist influence and bases of people who could stage effective counter-protest.
Most of the rally consisted of both sides standing on opposite sides of Main Street, with a long line of police standing between them, yelling obscenities at each other. But as the events came to a close and the national-socialists walked towards their vehicles, things got more intense as the AntiFas followed to an area in which there were no barriers to separate the two groups. Police equipped with riot gear were brought in to prevent any escalations and to allow for safe passage of the right-wing to their next venue. Three arrests were made during the event, all Antifas in attempts to get past law enforcement.
Unfortunately, most Antifa members declined to comment on the situation, but a member of the TWP gave some insight into the purpose of the demonstration. He says the goal was to “show solidarity among a big spectrum of right-wing ideologies and push back against the general dysgenic left.”
Also in attendance, standing on the side of the TWP, was Christopher Cantwell, well-known internet personality and host of the Radical Agenda. Cantwell made it clear that he was not a national-socialist, stating that he had plenty of economic disagreements with the TWP. He went on to say, however, that he felt that he could at least have an economics discussion with them, but that was not possible while “those idiots across the street are telling me it’s racist to cut taxes. They can’t be involved in the discussion if you want to get the economics straightened out.”
A common thread at the event was the use of propaganda which capitalized on the coal issue, an industry that was once the backbone of the region’s economy. Cantwell commented on this, stating “these people are professionals, they’re propagandists…they’re not acting in the best interest of anybody.” Also noteworthy was the right-wing factions taking advantage of their second amendment rights, many open-carrying rifles. Cantwell said “I’m glad that law enforcement seems to have this situation under control…the reds have a nasty habit of resorting to violence. We are capable of putting a stop to that violence.” He said he hopes that ultimately “white people” would learn through demonstrations such as this one “not to be so terrified of being called racist” and see that “there are people standing up against this race-baiting and that that will lose its power and we can have more reasonable discussions.”
Despite one’s views of the Antifa or the national-socialist movement, the event in Pikeville is just the latest example of an ongoing and intensifying struggle between the radical left and right for both their respective agendas and basic rights, such as free speech, in the Trump Era. If Pikeville is any indication of things to come, even small towns may not be sheltered for much longer from the coming political conflicts, with or without their residents’ approval.