Students to protest planned speech by ex-Congressional candidate who ran to 'Make America White Again'

Students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) are set to protest a planned campus appearance on Tuesday by white nationalist and former Congressional candidate Rick Tyler.

Tyler mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2016 against Rep. Chuck FleischmannCharles (Chuck) Joseph FleischmannDemocrats may bring DHS bill to House floor GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says public health threat of loneliness compounded by COVID-19; Trump says task force will 'evolve' MORE (R-Tenn.) and is running as a 2020 presidential nominee for the American Freedom Party, which promotes white nationalism.

The university’s Progressive Student Alliance will protest outside the building an hour before Tyler’s event, scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT, according to a Facebook event hosted by the group.


“The UTK administration is aware of the violent ideology Tyler is attempting to spread and is complacent in his presence of Rocky Top,” organizers wrote. “It is clear that white nationalists feel that UTK is a good place to spread their message, and the administration's complacency only reinforces their welcome on this campus.”

Tyler sponsored a billboard during his 2016 campaign reading “Make America White Again” and has reportedly been active in white nationalist organizing circles for the past three decades, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Tyler’s 2016 campaign materials spoke of the need to restore pre-1960s immigration laws in the interest of “a permanent European American majority” and an end to “policies that subsidize minority birth rates.”

University of Tennessee Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis told the Knoxville News Sentinel that Tyler was not being hosted or sponsored by any university group and that Tyler had rented space in the Alumni Memorial Building, from which the university cannot legally bar him.

“I want to be clear: white nationalism is contrary to our values as a university—racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry should have no place on Rocky Top,” Davis said.

Protesters cited several recent incidents on campus for speaking out against Tyler's appearance on campus, including swastikas being painted on the campus's The Rock last fall, according to the outlet.

Davis faced criticism last year from faculty at the school for not using the word "condemn" after swastikas were painted on The Rock. He later apologized at the faculty senate meeting if he had offended anyone by not directly condemning the vandalism, according to the News Sentinel.