White power members carried confederate flags and Ku Klux Klan advertisements during a white supremacy rally at Stone Mountain, Georgia last weekend. The location was chosen because of its significant confederate history. The Stone Mountain Park features large granite carvings of confederate leaders Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson. A large confederate flag flies over the park.
The “Rock Stone Mountain” rally did not draw the number of supremacists that they thought would attend, but the counter-protesters showed up in force. According to Rolling Out, even with the smaller numbers, it took the Park Police, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, DeKalb County Police and two helicopters to keep the counter-protestors from turning violent. According to CNN, the counter-protestors began throwing rocks and fireworks and getting into minor physical altercations with police. One protester pepper-sprayed an officer, and another set a barricade on fire. Eight counter-protesters were arrested. After the arrests, things settled down and the two groups stayed on their own sides of the barricades.
A spokesman for the supremacists said, “They are paid protesters. The same ones who burned down Ferguson. We’re not the ones creating violence here. If these guys win there will be no mercy. It’ll be Ferguson all over the place.”
A large number of the counter-protesters left the area when things started to get violent. Katherine Thilo is a member of a church group that came to protest but left early when things started to get heated. “Ninety-nine percent of the protesters are peaceful, but this is what they gonna show on the news,” she said. Another member of the group, Scott Maddox, added, “I came here for a peaceful rally. When you start throwing rocks … that is not what this is about. We are not gonna be a part of that.”
One of the counter-protestors, Dawn O’Neal, said, “We made a statement that we are not gonna get intimidated by and watch this terrorist group harass and incite fear and violence. We stood up to them today.”
A supremacist, Joseph Andrews, said, “They didn’t win. They didn’t shut us down. We had a successful, peaceful rally.”
While both sides claim victory, the true losers were the people who came to the park for a peaceful vacation as many of the attractions had to be shut down for security concerns.