Police attempted to prevent violence from erupting at a White supremacy rally Saturday morning in Stone Mountain, Georgia as others showed up in opposition to the meeting. Eight counter-protesters and one rally member were arrested.
Although the “Rock Stone Mountain” organizers expected about 2,000 supporters to attend the White power rally, only around two dozen showed up at Stone Mountain Park, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. But those who protested the initial meeting showed up in droves.
“We made a statement that we are not gonna get intimidated by and watch this terrorist group harass and incite fear and violence,” Dawn O’Neal, who demonstrated against the White supremacist meeting, told AJC. “We stood up to them today.”
Some of the counter-protesters could be heard shouting “Black Lives Matter” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the KKK has got to go.”
Many of the White power members carried Confederate flags, with at least one man displaying a large Ku Klux Klan advertisement.
U mad? YASS yall! Shut it DOWN! #Repost Georgia law enforcement shut down popular Stone Mountain park on Saturday after counter-demonstrators clashed with white supremacists during a scheduled pro-Confederacy rally. 8 counter-protesters and 1 rally participant were taken into custody. One protester was seen spraying a Georgia state trooper with pepper-spray as he attempted to break through the riot gear-clad police line holding the crowd at bay from the Confederate flag waving group. #stonemountain #kkk #kkkrally #counter #protest #atlanta
“They are paid protesters. The same ones who burned down Ferguson,” one White supremacist said. “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.”
The hundreds of counter-protesters attempted to get closer to the White power rally, but park police — supported by the Georgia State Patrol, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, DeKalb County Police and two helicopters — tried to keep the crowd away from the small group.
“Do not move! Do not break my line,” one officer shouted while the police were surrounding the White power members to keep the counter-protesters away.
Some counter-protesters reportedly began throwing rocks and fireworks and getting into minor physical altercations with police. According to AJC, one protester was seen pepper-spraying an officer, and another set a barricade on fire.
Eight protesters were arrested for refusing to remove their masks. One was charged with aggravated assault after hurling a smoke bomb at an officer.
After the violence broke out, some protesters left, including a group of church members who came to the park to protest peacefully.
“Ninety-nine percent of the protesters are peaceful, but this is what they gonna show on the news,” said church group member Katherine Thilo before leaving the rally.
“I came here for a peaceful rally. When you start throwing rocks … that is not what this is about,” said Scott Maddox, another member of the church group. “We are not gonna be a part of that.”
In an attempt to keep visitors safe, officers shut down some of the attractions, such as the laser show, cable car, and amusement center.
Although the White power rally was met with some challenges, organizers say it was a success.
“They didn’t win. They didn’t shut us down,” said 37-year-old Joseph Andrews of Kennesaw. “We had a successful, peaceful rally.”