Hundreds gather in downtown Knoxville to protest Supreme Court ruling

Hundreds of abortion rights protesters converged on downtown Knoxville’s Krutch Park on Friday night following the landmark Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Bans Off Our Bodies rally took over a popular park adjacent to Market Square, then turned into a march up and down Gay Street, which was blocked for the USA Cycling Criterium race.

“We just want to make our voices heard,” said Rachel Smith, who attended the protest with a friend. “Not everyone in every red state agrees with the decisions made.”

Tory Mills, one of the organizers, led the crowd in chanting and chanting a few chants, along with a collective howl of rage that one attendee called “live”.

Protesters listen to speeches Friday at a rally in Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville in support of abortion rights.  The US Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 that Americans no longer have a constitutional right to abortion.

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“Unfortunately, we knew this day was coming,” Mills said, adding that she wanted everyone to focus on the “beautiful, strong community” and keep taking action. “It’s going to be a 20 to 30 year fight.”

Mills encouraged those in attendance to talk to each other and learn about resources they could access and contribute to, such as funds that help women get out-of-state abortions.

“Rallies are not enough, voting is not enough,” she said. “We have to do all of these things and we have to do them in unison.”

The court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization concluded that the US Constitution does not confer the right to abortion and overturned Roe v. Wade, returning the power to regulate abortion to individual states.

Abortion remains legal in Tennessee as of Friday, but the ruling triggers a 30-day countdown to a 2019 abortion ban.

Tennessee also moved quickly to file an emergency motion in federal court to lift an injunction on a 2020 law that would ban abortions after six weeks of gestational age, though a decision seems unlikely to be forthcoming. returned before Tuesday.

David H. Henry