Neighbors raise questions about new landowners with history of supporting white supremacy
MEIGS COUNTY, Tenn. —
A couple with a record of organizing white supremacy groups says their new Southeast Tennessee neighbors have nothing to fear.
Eric and Angela Meadows bought 44 acres of land in Meigs County in March 2017, according to State of Tennessee Real Estate Assessment Data. According to a number of anti-fascist websites and even the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Meadows have supported white supremacy groups for years, in some cases even using different names.
Some people who live nearby wonder if their intentions have anything to do with racially-motivated ideas, considering the U.S. Census Bureau shows the county is 96% white. The director of schools told NewsChannel 9 local law enforcement warned them about the couple moving in months ago just so they could be informed.
"As long as they are not bothering nobody, everyone has their rights to do what they want to do," said Kenny Perkins. He's lived in Meigs County his whole life and says he's raising his family here. "Unless they start bothering people, then they ain't gonna bother me."
NewsChannel 9 spoke to Eric Meadows over the phone. While he declined a recorded interview, he did answer some questions, urging the people of Meigs County that he does not plan to bother anyone. He says he and his wife gave up their affiliations with white supremacist groups about two years ago. They bought the land for a development they called "Wotans Nation." He says the organization was meant to be a peaceful, religious community made up of like-minded people. Meadows says they even began to partner with area food banks to help feed the homeless.
Meadows said the community would also have no affiliation to politics. NewsChannel 9 did confirm the organization was registered with the State of Tennessee as a charitable organization.
Residents say if their intentions are genuine, then they are willing to give the couple a chance.
"If that’s their main intention - to help, and not do anything like the other kind of stuff - then I’d be okay," said Nathan Denton, a high school senior. "If something like that starts up, it'll be a big problem."
Meadows told NewsChannel 9 on Monday that he and his wife called off their plans because of all the misunderstanding. About an hour after the phone conversation, the couple took down the website, which now only shows a "coming soon" message. The group's Twitter page stays standing with about 20 followers as of Monday evening.
Meadows and his wife plan to retire, but he did not say what they plan to do with the property moving forward.
NewsChannel 9 reached out to Meigs County Mayor Bill James for a comment. His office has not responded yet.