Rolling Stone reports, “The city of Franklin, Tennessee, has exploded into a political firestorm in the wake of an alliance between conservative mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson and a white supremacist “Active Club.”
“Last week, Hanson arrived at a candidate forum with members of the Tennessee Active Club acting as her escort. Rolling Stone reported last month on Active Clubs, which are an emerging form of open-network groups that blend martial arts and combat training with white supremacist ideology. According to a report by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), more than 46 of these clubs have been established in the United States since 2020, one of them in Tennessee. When the group arrived in Franklin, they claimed to be there to “protect” Hanson, a current alderman for the city. Brad Lewis, who has described himself as “an actual literal Nazi” and owns a gathering place and training center for the Active Club, told News Channel 5 that Hanson was a “friend” and that they came at her request. “
Nashville’s News Channel 5 has been covering the story:
“Members of the Franklin Board of Mayor and Alderman sternly rebuked controversial alderman and mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson Tuesday night, accusing her of sowing division in a once-peaceful city by inviting members of a hate group into the community.
But Hanson quickly shot back, refusing to condemn the white supremacists who came to a candidates forum last week allegedly to protect her. Hanson said her colleagues were witnessing the “spiritual repercussions” of their own decisions. “This is the old adage of you reap what you sow,” the defiant Hanson said.
Per Rolling Stone, Hanson told the board, the Active Club was in Franklin partially as a result of alleged discrimination against Christians. “You’ve planted seeds for years and years against our citizens, and they are coming to harvest, this is what the citizens of Franklin are getting because of bad decisions.”
And what is an Active Club?
“Active Clubs mix white supremacy and violence, training in kickboxing, among other combat sports. But — at least the moment — they’re not seeking to intimidate the public with swastikas and face tattoos, common to other groups of racist brawlers. Instead, Active Clubs have put forward a slicker, more presentable aesthetic — recruiting new members by touting physical fitness, self-improvement, and “white unity.”
The Active Clubs are flying below the radar of law enforcement. But as described in a new 50-page report from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), the network is evolving into a dangerous “stand-by militia” of well-trained, white-nationalist fighters “who can be activated when the need for coordinated violent action on a larger scale arises.” Rolling Stone (different article, background, from September)