NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — Student activists say they want police to take action against white supremacist leader and alleged agitator Matthew Heimbach, who is seen on video in a confrontation with an interracial couple in Brentwood following a “White Lives Matter” rally last weekend.
“We know many people in our community have been arrested for much less, much more quickly than this case,” said Justin Jones, a student activist. “They have a video. They have the victims’ testimony to press charges. They have witnesses. They have a suspect and a person who has a history of this sort of behavior.”
Heimbach has been featured in a “20/20” special on white supremacy. He was recorded in Charlottesville, VA, leading the protests. And in Kentucky he is seen antagonizing a black woman who was attacked by men around her at a rally for President Donald Trump.
In Shelbyville, Heimbach can be seen News 4 cameras at the white supremacist rally and then later that night on cell phone video arguing with an interracial couple as others are seen hitting the woman, who fights back.
“This woman walked out to de-escalate the situation,” Jones said. “These white supremacists followed her outside and surrounded her. Matthew Heimbach was a part of the group that surrounded this interracial couple and escalated this situation to a point of violence and this woman defending herself.”
Jones and other student activists, Tarif Hunt and Alaya Williams, are helping push the petition addressed to Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson calling for Heimbach’s arrest. The petition was drafted on Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday afternoon, it had gained nearly 180 signatures from people all over Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond.
“When you have a viral video of identified white supremacists attacking an interracial couple, then there is not much to investigate,” Hunt said.
“We’re seeing the same thing here where we have local law enforcement push this narrative that the day ended without violence, that this was a victory for our community, but what we saw that evening was violence,” Jones said. “We stand with the victim and we want Matthew Heimbach brought to justice.”
Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron said in a statement:
This police department bases criminal charges not on a petition, but an investigation. This case has been under investigation by detectives at the Midtown Hills Precinct all week. Interviews have been conducted. Video evidence has been taken and is being reviewed, and they anticipate discussing their findings, thus far with the DA’s office at the beginning of the week.