A Saturday rally at Stone Mountain, Georgia – a suburban Atlanta landmark that pays tribute to Confederate leaders – resulted in the arrest of one “pro-white” demonstrator and nine counter-demonstrators.
The park was the location of a “white power” rally originally estimated to draw as many as 2,000 white extremists protesting against attempts by the “cultural Marxists” to “erase us” by working steadily to bring about “white genocide,” according to the Rock Stone Mountain website.
The group adjusted downward the number of expected attendees by Saturday morning, indicating they would have had more of a turnout if it wasn’t for the protesters.
John Michael Estes, one of the organizers, said the enormous numbers of police and the park’s decision not to let them climb the mountain “cut down our numbers quite a bit.”
In fact, the dozen or so “pro-white” supporters were vastly outnumbered by hundreds of protesters, who fought, set materials on fire and hurled rocks at police during the ruckus.
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WSB-TV reported the protest was “organized and supported by various members of the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nation sects and other openly white supremacists.” Rock Stone Mountain’s mission statement called for a peaceful protest, but a group called “All Out Atlanta” formed to stop them.
Heated clashes occurred between various factions of the pro-white groups and protest groups. Park officials temporarily closed roads in the park in an attempt to keep the clashes away from regular guests. They later canceled activities due to the rally.
The park released the following statement on Saturday: “Stone Mountain Park is located on state-owned land. The state agency with authority over Stone Mountain Park has issued permits to three groups to assemble for free speech activity on April 23. … The groups are exercising their First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. The opinions and views of the groups permitted to assemble are neither endorsed nor condoned by Stone Mountain Park. The attractions are closed for the remainder of the day. The Lasershow is canceled this evening. The park will resume normal operations on Sunday, April 24th.”
Angry protesters turned physical with law enforcement officers, who were outfitted in riot gear.
“Anytime there is a white supremacist that attempts to promote their horrible views there needs to be people out in opposition,” protester Charlie Abrams said.
“We’re not anti-cop, we’re not anti-white people or whatever the case may be. We’re anti-racist white people,” protester Mac McCoy said.
After counter-protesters were turned away by police, the protesters took to wooded trails attempting to reach the white power groups.
Park police were supported by the Georgia State Patrol, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, DeKalb County Police and two helicopters in an effort to keep the rally and counter protests from getting out of hand.
One pro-white demonstrator was arrested for aggravated assault for allegedly firing smoke bomb. Nine counter-protesters were arrested for refusing to take off their masks.
John Bankhead, spokesperson for Stone Mountain Park, told Fox 5 the pro-white Rock Stone Mountain group had a permit to rally. He said the counter-protesters did not. Even though park visitors have asked officials to shut down racially-charged groups, the park has to adhere to First Amendment Rights and provide additional security.
Bankhead admitted instances like Saturday’s cause too many problems. “We wish these people would go away. This is a family-oriented park. We are sick and tired of this quite frankly,” he said.