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Anti-neo-Nazi resolution fails again in Tennessee legislature

Anti-neo-Nazi resolution fails again in Tennessee legislature

NASHVILLE — For the second time in recent weeks, a resolution denouncing neo-Nazis and white nationalists has died in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Credit: Lacy Atkins / The Tennessean
Protesters march to the checkpoint for a White Lives Matter rally in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017.

The first resolution, filed by Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, was killed in a House subcommittee in mid-March after Clemmons failed to receive a second motion to discuss the resolution.

Clemmons had filed it days after the deadly Aug. 12 white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Last week, House Republican Caucus Chairman Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, sponsored a nearly identical version of Clemmons' resolution that omitted a paragraph urging law enforcement to recognize and pursue white nationalist groups as "domestic terrorist organizations."

The resolution was scheduled to go to the Delayed Bills Committee Tuesday, but Williams on Monday evening requested that it be withdrawn from consideration by the committee.

In a statement, Williams said the "bill's caption was too narrow and couldn't be amended to incorporate additional feedback gathered from our members over the past couple of days," though it wasn't immediately clear what kind of input Williams had received on the resolution from other Republicans.

Credit: Shelley Mays / The Tennessean
Counterprotester Erin McDermott, 41, of Nashville, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017.

Williams said he introduced his revised version of the resolution after receiving feedback from other Republicans, but since doing so had received additional input.

He did not elaborate on the concerns Republicans had expressed to him regarding the resolution or what changes would need to be made in order for it to pass.

"I still believe it is important for our General Assembly to condemn groups that support racism and hatred," he said in the statement. "I look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle on a future resolution which can meet the expectations of all of our House members, as well as the citizens of Tennessee."

Clemmons previously criticized Republicans for plagiarizing his bill language after declining to hear the resolution, describing them as "the only people in this state who would ever require a second chance to denounce neo-Nazis and their acts of violence."

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Follow Natalie Allison on Twitter: @natalie_allison