A neo-Nazi group has held a swastika burning after a rally in Georgia, with black-clad members of the racist hate group raising their arms in a massed Hitler salute as flames lit up the night air.
Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, gathered in a field to torch the wooden swastikas in a ceremony reminiscent of similar acts by other white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
Saturday’s swastika burning took place several hours after a rally in Newnan, George, which passed off without violence despite the presence of hundreds of armed antifa protesters.
Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, gathered in a field to torch the wooden swastikas in a ceremony on Saturday night reminiscent of similar acts by other white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan
The swastika burning took place several hours after a rally in Newnan, George, which passed off without violence despite the presence of hundreds of armed antifa protesters
The town, which is about 40 miles west of the state’s capital, permitted the National Socialist Movement to host a rally from 3 to 5pm on Saturday to celebrate Adolph Hitler’s birthday.
After a delay, few dozen members of the neo-Nazi group rallied briefly in Greenville Street Park with fences and armed police separating them from protesters before disbanding at 5pm.
The group claimed in speeches about immigration and foreign and domestic policy that they are ‘fighting for a better tomorrow’.
An estimated 400 law enforcement officers arrived early for the event to barricade the streets where the rally was held. Cops made at least 10 arrests during the day, many of them antifa who refused to take their masks off.
Neo-Nazis begin to set fire to a swastika which was anchored into the field with a stake. They then gathered in a line and performed a Hitler salute
A member of the National Socialist Movement posts up a beer to toast a burning swastika during the ceremony on Saturday night
A shirtless man holds both hands other his head as others pull Nazi salutes as the flames from the burning swastika fill the night air
A member of the National Socialist Movement holds a burning torch in preparation for setting alight to the swastikas
County records show two arrests on Saturday for wearing masks in public, as well as three for obstructing a peace officer, one for blocking a highway, and one for disorderly conduct.
The other arrests in Coweta county on Saturday were for theft, drug and probation violation charges, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether they were related to the protests.
The Atlanta Antifa and other counter-protesters organized their own rally to start earlier in Newnan to outnumber the white nationalist group and challenge their beliefs.
Anti-fascist members were seen armed with guns, masks and signs in protest, with several of them being taken into custody.
Members of the National Socialist Movement and their supporters march to hold a rally on Saturday in Newnan, Georgia, earlier on Saturday
A man wearing the insignia of the League of the South (center) joins the NSM march to Greenville Street Park
Only about 25 NSM supporters turned up for the rally in the park, while counter-protesters numbered in the hundreds
Members and supporters of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, hold a rally on Saturday in Newnan, Georgia. Community members opposed the rally and security was heavy
Members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and other white nationalists rally at Greenville Street Park in Newnan
An armed member of the National Socialist Movement was seen in Newnan Saturday during the rally. The neo-Nazis started later than scheduled after encountering protesters
The rally participants march away after the brief rally. Police successfully prevented clashes between the NSM and antifa
Early footage from the counter-protest before the white nationalist rally shows antifa getting arrested after they refused to take off their masks.
Citizens are allowed to carry a weapon in public under Georgia law, but they are not allowed to wear a mask.
According to Georgia law, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if they wear a mask, hood or any other device to conceal their face. This law was passed in 1951 by the state as a measure to help unmask members of the Ku Klux Klan.
These counter-protesters arrived in the town to object the group’s ability to host a rally about their controversial beliefs.
Hundreds of antifa counter-protesters (pictured) showed up to oppose the neo-Nazi rally honoring Adolph Hitler’s birthday
Antifa strike a pose ahead of the rally, include one man (standing far right) openly carrying an AR-15-style rifle
Earlier in the day, police arrested antifa for wearing masks. There were hundreds of protesters opposed to the NSM rally
Several antifa were arrested as police attempted to keep the crowds under control during the rally amid fierce opposition
Local citizens interact with with a Department of Corrections officer brought in to help maintain peace during the rally
A shirtless local citizen regards the scene alongside a deputy assigned to keep protesters separate from neo-Nazis
A male individual exclaims as police take him into custody. At least 10 protesters and antifa were arrested during the rally
Police haul away a protester in Newnan, Georgia, where hundreds of antifa protesters showed up hoping to battle neo-Nazis
Antifa are seen congregating on a sidewalk hoping to to confront the neo-Nazi group ahead of the rally
‘The City of Newnan has a responsibility to protect free speech rights, the individuals and groups that chose to exercise those rights and the broader community in which those rights may be exercised,’ the city said in a statement earlier this week.
One member of the organization, Burt Colucci, told Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the rally that it was within the group’s First Amendment right to talk about these racial issues, including illegal immigration.
‘We need to round (illegal immigrants) up and put them in camps if need be. Like we did the Italians, Germans and Japanese. We are at war with the illegals,’ he told the newspaper.
The National Socialist Movement obtained a permit for the demonstration last month and the event has since sparked counter-protesters to organize their own rally.
The extra safety measures the city has implemented include road closures and more law enforcement staff available during the demonstration, which will be held in Newnan’s Greenville State Park.
In response to the neo-Nazi demonstration, Atlanta’s Antifa and other counter-protesters began gathering in Newnan starting around 1.30pm.
Newnan, Georgia staffed an estimated 400 police officers from surrounding jurisdictions for the NSM rally on Saturday
Police made a heavy show of force and succeeded in keeping antifa and the neo-Nazis separate, preventing violence
Police are anticipated to outnumber the neo-Nazi members Saturday during their rally in celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday
Correction officers arrive hours before members of the National Socialist Movement are expected to arrive in Newnan for their rally Saturday
Another group called the No Nazi Newnan coalition has chastised the city for allowing the white supremacists to rally in the first place.
In a press release Tuesday afternoon, the coalition stated that ‘city of Newnan authorities have lectured their residents about not protesting the National Socialist Movement’, the Newnan Times-Herald reports.
But members of the coalition disagree with about not counter-protesting because they believe ‘turning a blind eye’ is not going to stop ‘bigotry, hatred or violence.’
‘What is needed is a large-scale display of unity and community vigilance against organized white supremacists,’ the statement said.
Most businesses have shutdown amid the demonstrations and residents are worried that the protests could turn violent.
Newnan residents October Strange (left), six, her mother Ashley Frazier (center) and sister Lily Strange (right), seven, showed up in the town square to voice their opposition to the rally held nearby by the National Socialist Movement
Local residents chant in opposition to members of the National Socialist Movement and other white nationalists
Residents chant in opposition to members of the National Socialist Movement and other white nationalists who were rallying
Residents of the the Georgia town have spoken against the rally saying the area is ‘no place for hate’. Some members of the community are concerned about potential violent clashes
Some local businesses have been closed an anticipation of the events Saturday to encourage residents to stay away from the demonstration
In preparation for the event, police officers have put up barricades around the area
‘It’s scary that this is coming to our town because we didn’t ask for this,’ said Newnan resident Gina Godfrey to CBS 46.
She was trying to go to the bank Friday, but the building was already barricaded in anticipation of Saturday’s rally.
Residents’ fears about the rally stems from the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist event in August 2017.
The day turned violent when a vehicle slammed into counter-protesters killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 people. The driver, James Fields Jr, was charged with second-degree murder.