Brown and a group of roughly a dozen trucks surrounded the pavilion where the So. Ill Unity Coalition’s demonstration was occurring on Sunday. Their trucks were outfitted with American flags, Confederate flags, and pro-Donald Trump imagery.
One truck bore an American flag modified with a “Three Percenter” emblem. The organization is a diffuse, bottom-up militia, according to a Politico profile, with the group itself claiming inspiration from the “rough estimate” that only 3% of American colonists took up arms against the British forces. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls Three Percenters an “anti-government” group with chapters nationwide.
Jeff Messemore, who is originally from Vienna, said the group was present to “support Trump” and their “American freedoms.” He said they and others have the right to assemble “as long as everything remains peaceful.”
“If they want to protest, we applaud,” Messemore said. “Speak your mind — this is America, that is what America is about.” But, he noted, the moment people start to “destroy something,” those within that community “shouldn’t wait for the law” and “take care of their property.”
Messemore said he feels like he has been labeled as a racist because he’s a white man from “a redneck town” who wears a cowboy hat. “Skin color is irrelevant if you act like a decent human being, humility goes a long way,” he said.
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