By Sheryl Estrada
White nationalists participate in a rally at Stone Mountain in Georgia on Saturday.
A rally organized by white nationalists to “protest efforts to erase the white race” at Stone Mountain in Georgia on Saturday resulted in a clash with counter-protesters.
The group called “Rock Stone Mountain” orchestrated the protest as a celebration of Confederate Memorial Day. The anti-racism group, All Out Atlanta, organized a counter protest at the same location and time.
It is estimated that 300 counter-protesters attended the rally greatly outnumbering about 30white nationalists who showed up. And it appeared that police in riot gear outnumbered everyone.
John Estes, an organizer with the group Rock Stone Mountain, commented on the low number of participants, saying the park not allowing them to climb the mountain and the great number of police officers “cut down our numbers quite a bit.”
John Bankhead, a spokesman with the Stone Mountain Park Police, reported that nine All Out Atlanta counter-protesters were arrested before noon Saturday, according to 11 Alive.
They were asked to remove masks in compliance with park ordinance and refused, which resulted in their arrests, authorities said. It isn’t known if two counter-protesters accused of pepper-spraying a police officer and throwing firecrackers were among those arrested.
“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.
“Either you support white supremacist groups having rallies here at this memorial to the Confederacy or you don’t,” Khalid Kamau, an organizer with Black Lives Matter’s Atlanta chapter, said. “If you’re not fighting against Stone Mountain park, then you’re automatically supporting it.”
A person from the pro-white group was arrested for throwing a smoke bomb at law enforcement officers.
“Enough is enough,” a “pro-white” activist named Andrew told The Guardian. “They took the rebel flag out of the [Stone Mountain] laser show and put Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King in it. I have no problem with them putting civil rights leaders in there. There’s nothing wrong with that. Make all the history you want to. Just don’t take my rebel flag out.”
Police reportedly tried to keep All Out Atlanta, which demonstrated on the opposite side of the barricade, separated from Rock Stone Mountain; this led to both sides pushing back.
Protesters and counter-protesters began to leave the park around 2 p.m.
White supremacists gather at Stone Mountain pic.twitter.com/4MjkuYDH6M
Craig Schneider (@Scraigo) April 23, 2016
Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) April 23, 2016
Stone Mountain houses a large carving in the granite mountain of Confederate leaders President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
In October, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and the Stone Mountain Memorial Association approved a monument for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which will be an elevated tower featuring a replica of the Liberty Bell. The NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Sons of Confederate Veterans are opposing the monument albeit for very different reasons.
Civil rights groups said they are opposed to building a monument dedicated to King where racism once thrived. The monument will be yards away from a location on top of the mountain where the Ku Klux Klan was reborn in 1915 and that served as the site of cross burnings and rallies.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said a monument to King would “disrespect” Confederate heroes. Stone Mountain became a memorial to the Confederacy by state law.