The National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi organization, is holding it’s annual meeting in Newnan, Georgia this weekend. Their presence has drawn other organizations to the small town as well, including members of League of the South.
According to local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, counter-protests are being held by the Atlanta Antifascists (Antifa), the Northeast Georgia branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Workers’ Solidarity Alliance (WSA). Arising out of this combined effort is the #NoNaziNewnan Coalition, which is urging its members and local residents to be present and visible during the rally to show their solidarity and dissent. They also report that approximately 50,000 people signed a change.org petition that opposes the permit granted to NSM allowing them to assemble in Newnan.
Local law enforcement, which plans on having some 400 officers on hand, has discouraged counter-protests in an effort to reduce any possible violence. Their concern is valid, considering the number of hospitalizations and deaths that have occurred at similar rallies.
The death of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville, Virginia, “Unite the Right” rally last August is still fresh in the minds of many. The rally was held in protest to the removal of a Confederate statue from a local park. Heyer died after a man drove his car into a group of anti-racist demonstrators. Newnan police want to avoid any such travesty. In addition to encouraging residents to stay away from the rally, they have also barricaded the park where it will be held.
Citizens of Newnan have also devised their own protest in the form of a community festival featuring local musicians and advertised as #NewnanStrong. Residents are coming together in a demonstration of anti-racism and anti-hate. Andrew Kimmel, head of live video for BuzzFeed News, is covering the events in Newnan, and has tweeted photos of residents using sidewalk chalk to draw “messages of love” around the town.
Residents of Newnan have come out to write messages of love in chalk on walls and sidewalks all throughout town. pic.twitter.com/EeqCqj0MgK— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) April 20, 2018
Kimmel also captured a couple of women who decided to have volunteers agree to help clean up the city after the neo-Nazi rally.
Katie and Caryn Coyne have set up an “on-call volunteer” booth for those in the Newnan community interested in helping clean up the town after tomorrow’s rally. pic.twitter.com/OXLqKzC4S3— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) April 20, 2018
It’s not just the residents who are concerned. Several downtown businesses have decided to remain closed on Saturday, April 21 while the NSM rally is taking place in the nearby Greenville Street Park. Although the march will not take place until 3:00 p.m., police will begin closing roadways around the park at 10:00 a.m. The #NoNaziNewnan rally is set to begin at 1:30 p.m.