A total of nine people were arrested Saturday during the Black Lives Matter march on the Town Square in Rogersville.
The march was organized by a group known as the New Black Panthers out of Johnson City. There are no indications that any of the arrests involved the protesters.
In fact, Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the protests were peaceful.
“It turned out to be peaceful,” Lawson said. “We had a few incidents where nine people were arrested for disorderly conduct. It could have been a volatile situation, but the large presence of law enforcement definitely played a part in keeping things peaceful.”
Hawkins County Mayor Jim Lee was pleased with the law enforcement detail at the protest.
“I am very proud of our law enforcement here in Hawkins County,” said Lee, a former Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper. “Rogersville Police Department and Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office did a great job in coordinating and providing a safe environment for everyone present. I want to personally thank all of the public safety members that participated.
“We had several public safety members from surrounding counties that came in to assist. They were very professional. Protesting is an inalienable right, recognized by the Constitution and rioting is a crime. I am thankful that all we had Saturday were peaceful protests.”
Law enforcement from Rogersville, Jefferson City and Greeneville city departments, as well as Sullivan, Grainger, Hawkins, Greene and Jefferson counties were in Rogersville for the protest.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol provided security on main routes into Rogersville.
Hawkins County officials had released details on four the arrests by press time Monday.
The four men, including two from the Lakeway Area, were arrested for disorderly conduct:
• Sean Camron Kauffmann, 26, of Vail, Arizona,
• Garon Joseph Archer, 25, of Johnson City,
• Daniel Lee Starnes, 41, of Summit Hill Road, Bulls Gap and
• Joshua Blakeney, 20, of Parker Road, Morristown, were all arrested at the protest by Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
According to reports by Cpl. Eric Pease, of the HCSO, Starnes became upset when members of the New Panther Initiative wanted to put flowers on the Veterans’ Monument located in front of the Hawkins County Courthouse.
A NPI member gave flowers to Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson. Starnes reportedly approached Lawson in an aggressive manner, grabbing the flowers and dispersed them into the crowd.
Authorities allege Kauffman, Archer and Blakeney got into a fracas and tried to assault several people in the crowd.
All four are still being held at the Hawkins County Jail pending arraignment in Hawkins County Sessions Court.
A spokesperson with the Town of Rogersville said that Mayor Jim Sells would make a statement, but one was not released by deadline Monday.