An artist says that while at a retreat in Kentucky, a group of white supremacists intimidated and threatened attendees. Police said they could not guarantee artists’ safety from the hate group.
In a TikTok posted on Monday, Kabrea J. (@euphoriccdreams), says that she attended an artists’ retreat in Bledsoe, Kentucky, last weekend. While there, Kabrea says that white supremacists “showed up and said that we were desecrating their space and demanded that we leave.”
After police told the group that they couldn’t guarantee the white supremacists wouldn’t cause harm, the group of 50 to 75 artists left the retreat early. (The Harlan County Sheriff’s office did not immediately return the Daily Dot’s call regarding comment.)
“Some of us drove, like I said, three to four hours to get there,” Kabrea says in her video. “Trash. Nothing else to say.”
@euphoriccdreams so much love to my fellow creatives. i have no words 😞 #fyp #blacktiktok #blackgirltiktok #bledsoe #kentucky #art #retreat #appalachianmountains #appalachian #appalachianartist ♬ original sound – Kabrea J. 🌸
In a follow-up video, Kabrea says that “it all happened so fast” and that her experience was very confusing.
“It was just so perplexing that this even happened,” Kabrea says. “We weren’t even there a full 24 hours.”
“We are allowed to take up space,” Kabrea says. “We are allowed to live in [Appalachia] and live in harmony with nature just like anybody else.”
Waymakers Collective, which held the retreat, also released a statement. In it, the collective said that “a group of white men and women in trucks and on ATVs from the area surrounding the Pine Mountain Settlement School,” where the event was held, “showed up unannounced and uninvited to our private gathering,” which at the time was in the school’s chapel.
The white supremacists demanded that the art collective leave the Pine Mountain Settlement School and use “their vehicles to block the roads and paths to exit.”
“Our group was told they did not belong there, were desecrating a Christian space, and needed to leave right away,” the statement says. “The group of people who entered the chapel stayed for over an hour, often lingering on the outside of where we were gathered as though to tell us we were not welcome and were being watched.”
Waymakers Collective says that Facebook posts from surrounding community members in Bledsoe allege that the group was desecrating the school’s chapel, which the collective denies.
The collective also says that the school didn’t have safety measures in place to protect the artists and simply ordered them to not go back into the school’s chapel while they were on the premises.
“Many of our participants are deeply traumatized by this experience, especially those of us with personal lived experiences of racial and gender-based violence,” the statement reads. “As Appalachian people, this level of hostility, hate, and violation of our group felt deeply un-Appalachian and not in alignment with the values that so many of us grew up with.”
Pine Mountain Settlement School also released a statement that was shared with the Daily Dot. The statement says that images the Waymakers Collective posted of a healing space they’d set up in the school’s chapel “upset some members of the local community, who interpreted this as non-Christian.”
“It was decided that the chapel would remain vacant and be locked to avoid further conflict,” the statement reads. “Most community members had left by the time the authorities arrived. Afterward, the Waymakers Collective ended their retreat early and left campus.”
The statement also says that the school is “reviewing its policies and procedures to ensure that this type of misunderstanding does not occur in the future and to ensure the safety of all guests, visitors, and staff.”