Franklin protest of recent legislation draws hostility from Confederate statue supporters

"My voice, my right" protest in Franklin Monday. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A protest in Franklin of a controversial bill the legislature passed recently devolved into shoving when counter protesters became agitated over chalk graffiti on the Confederate statue in the town’s square.

The “My Voice, My Right” protest was organized by a coalition of groups and individuals including the Franklin Equity and Justice Coalition, Franklin Teens for Justice and Williamson County Young Democrats.

Photojournalist John Partipilo was in the thick of the event, documenting it from the 5 p.m. start until police swooped in as it was ending.

Partipilo said the protest was wrapping up when several attendees began to draw and write with chalk on both the sidewalk and the base of the Confederate statue, the latter of which was ruled to be private property owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy after a lawsuit between the city and the UDC.

Counter protesters who had been standing on a corner opposite the square ran into the center of the square to confront protesters. Members of both groups shoved one another and raised voices before police arrived and everyone to leave.

HB 8005, which Gov. Bill Lee has indicated he will sign, makes camping on state property not specifically marked for camping and vandalism of state property, including marking with chalk, felony criminal activities. The legislation is thought to be targeted towards protesters who camped on the Legislative Plaza in front of the Tennessee Capitol for 62 days this summer.