Dozens attended a demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter in Branson Sunday. Several also attended in counter-protest.
During a week in which a Black Lives Matter protest outside a Confederate store in Branson caught national attention, another protest is set to take place at the same location.
Dixie Outfitters, a store that sells Confederate merchandise and has ties to the Ku Klux Klan, will be at the center of a third protest in as many weeks. The protest will begin around noon Saturday, according to multiple Facebook event posts.
Similar protests against police brutality and racism have been happening in large and small cities across the nation following the killing of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
DIXIE OUTFITTERS PROTEST COVERAGE
The second Dixie Outfitters protest, which took place Sunday, caught national attention thanks in large part to a video that went viral in which a woman yelled “I will teach my grandkids to hate you all” at Black Lives Matter protesters. She also yelled “suck on this” and shrouded herself with a Confederate flag. She then turned around, made a fist and said, “KKK belief.”
The woman, Kathy Jenkins — who gave News-Leader reporters a different last name at the Sunday demonstration — has since apologized in an interview with KOLR10 while claiming she “blacked out” when she made those racist remarks.
Organizers of the previous Dixie Outfitters protests said they chose the store after reading a 2015 article by the News-Leader. The article detailed the store’s owners having ties to the KKK.
About the upcoming protest
Multiple Facebook events have been created by both protesters and counter-protesters. The News-Leader reached out to both event organizers for comment for this story.
Larry Flenoid II is one of the organizers for the protest against Dixie Outfitters. The event on Facebook, titled “SHUT DOWN DIXIE RACISTS NON-VIOLENT PROTEST,” has at least 60 people saying they will attend with nearly 200 interested. The protesters will be supported by a group called “Arkansas Hate Watch” which has its own event scheduled on Facebook for the same time with nearly 40 people interested.
Flenoid, who is running for Springfield mayor, wasn’t a part of the last two Dixie Outfitters protests, but he’ll be in Branson on Saturday. He said he was asked to attend by those who have heard him speak at recent Springfield protests.
His group has been preaching to keep the protests nonviolent. Flenoid wants the protest to “make a statement.”
“This is our community too and we’re not trying to destroy our community,” Flenoid said. “We live here and we love it here. We just want to see a positive change in our community.”
Flenoid said his motive to protest isn’t because of the Confederate flag but because the owners have ties to the KKK.
“We know they’re affiliated with the Klan,” Flenoid said. “We know the Klan’s history throughout this country. I feel like being a Black man, this is an opportunity that a lot of Black people didn’t get to have and never would get to have is to stand up against the Klan and let them know that we’re fed up and we’re done.”
Flenoid said he laughed at Jenkins’ apology and thought it was “fake.”
Following Sunday’s Black Lives Matter demonstration outside Dixie Outfitters, the owners thanked supporters and called the protesters “thugs” in a social media post.
“I want to thank everyone that showed up today in support of Dixie Outfitters. And many thanks to Branson (Police Department). We especially appreciate the group prayer for our country,” the post read. “These thugs don’t just hate us…they hate our country! They hate patriotism, faith and freedom! But God still reigns over Branson, MO!”
When asked about Dixie Outfitters’ statement — specifically about the use of the word “thugs” — Flenoid said, “they were calling us (n-words).”
“That’s just the more polite way and the more (politically correct) way of calling us (n-words),” Flenoid said. “At the same time, when you’re calling us criminals, thugs, trash, rioters and looters; all you are calling us is (n-words).”
The News-Leader reached out to the listed organizer for the Facebook event “Stand with Branson Dixie Outfitters” on Thursday morning and did not receive a response by Friday afternoon. The counterprotest is listed for the same time as the protest and has at least 30 people saying they’re going, with nearly 175 interested.
Calls to the store’s owner, Anna Robb, have yet to be returned.
Branson police ‘prepared’
City of Branson Communications Manager Melody Pettit said in an email to the News-Leader on Thursday that there has yet to be any plans of shutting down sidewalks or closing roads for this weekend’s demonstrations.
Pettit wrote that street closures are possible as officers on-site work to assess and maintain safety. The Branson Police Department hasn’t asked any businesses in the area to close on Saturday.
“The Branson Police Department is committed to ensuring all rights are preserved and our citizens remain free to express themselves,” she wrote. “The role of the Branson Police Department is to ensure that the law is obeyed and that everyone has their opportunity to voice their concerns in a safe manner.
“Police officials always make a point to meet individually with demonstrator organizers to go over the applicable laws, expectations, and how to keep everyone safe. This weekend is no different. Demonstrator organizers have been working with police to make sure everyone is able to demonstrate peacefully and safely.
“The Branson Police Department is always prepared and regularly trains for a variety of scenarios. The Department is well prepared for and has a scalable plan involving regional, State, and Federal partners for the peaceful demonstrations that are planned for this weekend.”
In a post on Facebook on Monday, the Branson Police Department said no arrests were made during Sunday’s demonstration. The department said there have been “about” seven demonstrations that have taken place in Branson since May 30 and that all have been peaceful with no significant issues.
Story continues below.
About the 2015 article
In 2015, Anna Robb — the store owner — told the News-Leader that she had attended KKK events in the past, but that was “years ago.” Her husband Nathan, co-owner of the store, once tried to adopt a highway in Arkansas on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan, and Nathan Robb’s father is Thomas Robb, the national director of the KKK.
Anna Robb denied that she or her husband were ever a part of the KKK but did say she had attended KKK events in the past.
“I have years ago,” she said in 2015. “That was years ago, and that is not even something that comes up anymore.”
She also spoke about what she felt was the wrong impression many people have about the Confederate flag.
“It has nothing to do with slavery, which the media always want to bring in,” she said.
But the Anti-Defamation League and others have pointed to the flag’s connection to the Civil War and its history as “a symbol of white supremacy and slavery.”
“Which is why white supremacists throughout the years have flown the flag themselves because they, too, acknowledge it as a symbol of white supremacy,” said Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
News-Leader reporter Jackie Rehwald contributed to this story
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