Members of pro-Confederate and white supremacist organizations clashed with counter-protesters in Georgia on Saturday after a far-right rally turned into a violent standoff between opposing groups.
Several dozen right-wing activists toting rifles and Confederate battle flags gathered in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain, near Stone Mountain Park, home to a giant sculpture of Confederate leaders.
The Three Percenters militia, which organized the event, had applied last month to hold a more than 2,000-strong rally ‘to defend and protect our history and second Amendment rights’ at the park in response to a march by an all-Black militia held on July 4.
The application however, was denied by state officials, who cited violence at a similar event in 2016. Stone Mountain Memorial Association spokesperson John Bankhead said the park denied the permit on August 4.
In a statement ahead of the planned rally on Friday, Stone Mountain Park announced it would close its gates to the public due to security concerns.
Chaos unfolded in Stone Mountain, Georgia on Saturday during a far-right rally with pro-Confederate and white supremacist groups
Members of right-wing groups clashed with counter-protesters (pictured) after Black Lives Matter and Antifa groups showed up at the event
A counter demonstrator holding a placard calling for the removal of the Confederate monument is seen facing off with a member of a far-right group
For the first few hours of the rally, things were relatively peaceful, aside from some shoving and pushing and spirited arguments
Stone Mountain Park is famed for its giant rock sculpture of Confederate Civil War figures Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. The sculpture is America’s largest Confederate memorial
Last year, the park also closed down rather than allow a rally organized by white supremacists to go forward.
But several online groups, including one dubbed ‘Defending Stone Mountain,’ vowed to march in the park anyway and asked participants to come with Confederate and US flags. Another group, the Atlanta Antifacists, vowed to hold a counter-protest.
Chaos unfolded in downtown Stone Mountain as expected on Saturday morning, as rival groups faced off with each other.
Members of right-wing groups proudly waving their Confederate flags were seen coming face to face with Black Lives Matter activists, while those on the opposing side set Confederate flags alight.
Right wing activists faced off against a few hundred counterprotesters, many of whom wore shirts or carried signs expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement
Anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters came face to face with far right militias and white pride organizations rally near Stone Mountain Park
Anti-racism protesters were seen setting Confederate battle flags in the middle of the street
Protests had been generally peaceful up until 1pm when fights broke out, with people punching and kicking each other and throwing rocks
Several dozen right-wing demonstrators, some waving the Confederate battle flag and many wearing military gear, gathered in downtown Stone Mountain
Officials in the adjoining city of Stone Mountain advised people Friday to stay away from the city all day, residents to stay home and businesses to shut down.
‘Do not confront the protesters,’ the city wrote in a public announcement posted on social media.
‘Please know that the city’s local law enforcement agency is managing the situation and has devised a plan for the protection of life and property,’ the announcement continued.
‘Every effort is being made to ensure that any demonstrations conducted within the city´s limits are performed peacefully and without incident.’
Heavy armed militia marched towards Stone Mountain Park today. Stone Mountain Park was closed and the pro-monument miltia were meet by Antifa and counter-protesters as they marched towards Stone Mountain. Pictured armed militia marching towards Stone Mountain Park. (Christopher Oquendo for DailyMail.com)
Bankhead said police would be present to keep demonstrators away and the park will reopen Sunday.
The predominantly black demonstrators on July 4 spoke out against the huge sculpture depicting General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.
Carved into a granite mountain, the bas-relief sculpture is the largest Confederate monument ever crafted.
The 100 to 200 protesters, many of whom carried large rifles, were peaceful.
Although the park has historically been a gathering spot for white supremacists, the adjoining city of Stone Mountain has a majority-Black population today.
The park at Stone Mountain markets itself as a family theme park rather than a shrine to the ‘Lost Cause’ mythology that romanticizes the Confederacy as chivalrous defenders of states’rights.
It’s a popular recreation spot for many families on the east side of Atlanta, with hiking trails, a golf course, boat rentals and other attractions. The park has long been known for its laser light shows, but those have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.