A pro-white rally held at Stone Mountain, Georgia, left many protesters in handcuffs. The Rock Stone Mountain event was held by southern heritage activists, who have been dubbed "white power" leaders, at the Atlanta area park on Saturday.
A large number of anti-KKK protesters turned up at Stone Mountain Park in DeKalb County, and some were shown carrying guns in videos recorded at the pro-white rally protests. Police officers in riot gear surrounded the barricaded perimeter of the event, and about 24 people were waving Confederate flags. The event was organized in an effort to "protest efforts to erase the white race," 11 Alive News reports.
.@AllOutAtlanta Statement on #StoneMountain protest - https://t.co/q8s4Npp2ln #Antifa pic.twitter.com/QjMc707gl8
— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) April 24, 2016
Approximately nine protesters were arrested after they tried to break through the police barrier around the pro-white rally demonstrators. The protesters ran through the wooded trails at Stone Mountain to evade police, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
DeKalb County law enforcement agents were subjected to fireworks being set off in their direction, barricade structures being lifted and used like battering rams, and rocks being hurled at them during the Rock Stone Mountain incident.
Due to the volatile nature of the protesters and the event, officials at Stone Mountain Park closed a laser show and shut down a cable car ride and other popular amusements. The park encompasses about 3,200 acres and is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in the state. It also boasts a grist mill, covered bridge, a 363-acre fishing lake, and two golf courses, the park's website notes.
"White power" group vastly outnumbered by counter-protesters at Stone Mountain https://t.co/Eeoyht7KYK pic.twitter.com/OmJs6IeXFi
— AJC (@ajc) April 23, 2016
Stone Mountain Park is also home to the "largest high relief sculpture in the world" and a Confederate historical center. The Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three southern heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The surface of the carving measure 30 acres and is larger than Mount Rushmore. It is recessed 42 feet into the mountain.
The pro-white rally activists were reportedly a blended group of individuals, with many of them stating they came out to support their southern and Confederate heritage and oppose racism and the KKK. Individuals who carried a Confederate flag or wore shirts that displayed some type of southern pride wording reportedly included members of local militia groups, Anonymous, the online activist group, and members of an area motorcycle club.
Police in riot gear on scene at #StoneMountain protests; Police now confirm 9 total arrests https://t.co/J613nuffsV pic.twitter.com/iTbdM6hdiJ— 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) April 23, 2016
"Good job, guys. We won. We beat the hate," one of the event organizers, Steve Panther of Confederates of Michigan, said.
Some rally protesters reportedly dressed in all black, wore masks, and came to Stone Mountain Park to confront the Confederate heritage demonstrators.
"Black Lives Matter" and "Hey hey, ho, ho, the KKK has got to go" were chanted by some of the protesters who confronted police officers attempting to maintain order and protect the free speech rights of the pro-white rally activists.
"Do not move, do not break my line," one police officer was heard shouting when the protesters tried to push back the officers and reach the Confederate heritage demonstrators.
Warning: The Stone Mountain protest video below features strong language."We made a statement that we are not gonna get intimidated by and watch this terrorist group harass and incite fear and violence," protester Dawn O'Neal said. "We stood up to them today."
Videos and photos of the Rock Stone Mountain rally have gone viral on social media, with many of those who said they do not agree with the pro-rally demonstrators still supporting their right to assemble without fear of a riot to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Ayala Vallegas, a Tennessee resident who is the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and a black father, attended the event carrying her Confederate flag.
"We're not racists," Vallegas said. "We have a culture, like everyone else. This is pretty much our culture. This is our flag."Greg Calhoun and John Michael Estes, two other organizers of the Stone Mountain Park rally, claim many of their supporters were turned away at the admission desk or were afraid of walking through the agitated protesters to attend as they had planned. DeKalb County police officials deny anyone was prevented access to the park.
"That's America these days," Calhoun told local reporters.
John Estes maintained many of the Rock Stone Mountain rally agitators were paid protesters and akin to the rioters who "burned down Ferguson."
"The liberal media and the police have kept our people away," Estes 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."
When Dallas resident Roy Pemberton arrived carrying a massive Ku Klux Klan flag, the Stone Mountain rally organizers opted to shut down after their repeated attempts to get him to leave were ignored. Event organizers said they did not want any hate symbols at their event and the KKK message is not something they support.Katherine Thilo, who came to protest with her church group, said she was shocked when the opponents to the Rock Stone Mountain rally turned violent. She said she frantically searched for her daughter in the crowd when what was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned violent.
Some police officers sustained minor injuries from actions taken by the protesters. One of the rally opponents was reportedly spotted spraying a state trooper with mace. Another protester was arrested for aggravated assault when caught throwing a smoke bomb at a police officer. None of the rally participants wavered from their goal of a peaceful demonstration and therefore did not wind up in handcuffs.
What do you think about the Stone Mountain Park rally?
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