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Cookeville Residents Speak Out Against Anti-Drag Protests

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Residents Speak Out Against Anti-Drag Protests

Cookeville City Council heard more than an hour of comments Thursday night as the controversy over drag shows and subsequent protests continued.

Multiple residents expressed concern that city and county leaders did not denounce the hate groups who marched on January 22 along Cedar Avenue. Resident Billy George:

“Personally I do think that the silence is an invitation for a return of that particular type of event,” George said. “With, the Nazis being present (…) As a citizen of Cookeville, silence is difficult to watch. There are so many issues and concerns that people in this area have.”

High School Student Annaleisa Stanberry called the amount of homophobia and homophobic language used at the high school “ridiculous.” She said when she is at school, she feels like a target.

“Why am I having to come up here and speak about how I’m being told to kill myself because I’m ‘gay’ or whatever everyone else says,” Stanberry said. “So I would please just ask you, please, I don’t want to walk into my school and feel like a target.”

Cookeville Resident Cassie Thomas said that she has lived in the city for half of her life. She said despite the fact that she intentionally spends time, and money, and works in public service in the community, she is being told she does not belong.

“I am not trying to hold you accountable for the actions of a few out-of-town fascists, that wouldn’t be fair,” Thomas said. “But I moved back to Cookeville in part because I wanted to foster a safe and welcoming space for all the welcoming and current students who come here for higher education, and I am happy to take that on, but it would be nice to have some support.”

“It would be dandy to have some elected officials who valued the contributions of their LGBTQ and Jewish constituents, ethnic minorities, and all people of color in this town. Enough, to expend the modicum of effort it would take to disavow white supremacist groups slinging intimidation, slander, and slurs at innocent civilians in our streets.”

In the packed court room, a majority of those present were there in support of this message. There was also a presence from those against drag shows.

LuAnn Nicosia is a Cookeville resident who spoke out at the previous council meetings against drag shows. She said she and several others were at the event on January 22nd to make sure children were not let into the drag show.

“I want to make extremely clear for the record that as Christians we fully condemn the hate groups, the Nazis, the Proud Boys, the Antifa, and all other hate groups that were present that day. We condemn their words, we condemn their actions, and we condemn their hateful Nazi flag. We condemn it all. We were only there and stayed there to protect and monitor to make sure that no children were allowed into this drag show. And also to pray, and to make sure this was done peacefully and legally.”

Mayor Laurin Wheaton said council members would talk individually with residents with concerns.

In other business, the council approved an agreement with TDOT to cover some 10 percent of improvements to Pippin Road.

Upgrades set to bid in spring, 2024 for completion by the fall of the year. The improvements cover West Broad Street to County Farm Road, with resurfacing, new striping, and new signage.

The council approved a three-year agreement with ESRI for geographic software used by multiple city departments. The new agreement includes a $4,700 annual cost increase. Council also renewed the city’s Cyber Security Insurance, protecting the city to the extent of a $1 million loss.

The council approved on final readings the rezoning of a Buck Mountain Road parcel to RS-10 and a 10th Street parcel to Local Commercial.


The post Cookeville Residents Speak Out Against Anti-Drag Protests appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.