Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park, which features a bald rock face adorned with the carved images of Confederate generals, has closed in advance of a planned protest that officials feared could turn violent.
As WAGA-TV reported, “several” far-right groups, including some affiliated with the white supremacy movement, had planned to convene at the park for a rally on Saturday.
One such group, known as the Three Percenters, had applied for a permit to hold a 2,000-person rally at the park “to defend and protect our history and second Amendment rights,” according to Reuters, but were denied due to violence at a similar rally in 2016. Their request was denied; however, they, and several affiliated groups, intended to march anyway.
Several organizations, including one that called itself “Defending Stone Mountain,” called on protesters to bring Confederate and U.S. flags to the event.
Meanwhile, at least two competing groups planned to hold counter-protests. One consists of the same armed Black protesters that had convened on the monument in early July; another group calling itself “the Atlanta Antifacists” also planned on staging a counter-protest.
Fearing possible violence, the City of Stone Mountain, which has jurisdiction over the park, made the decision to shut the facility down on Saturday.
In a statement, the community noted that not only is it closing down the park, it’s asking people to avoid parts of town and to be extra vigilant about any violence.
“Out of the abundance of caution we are asking the general public to avoid the city of Stone Mountain, specifically the downtown area, on Saturday, August 15, 2020, beginning at 4:00 a.m. until 12:00 a.m. midnight… Please know that the city’s law enforcement agency is managing the situation and has devised a plan for the protection of life and property,” the statement reads in part.
Authorities asked residents to call 911 immediately if they witness violence, property damage, or credible threats.
The park plans to reopen on Sunday for normal operations.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Stone Mountain is the world’s largest Confederate monument, featuring the likenesses of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson carved into the side of a mountain, not unlike Mount Rushmore and its similar depiction of four U.S. presidents.
In the wake of the George Floyd protests, calls have gone up for the removal of monuments honoring Confederate fighters, with critics saying that such memorials glorify racism. However, unlike a statue, which can be dismantled and moved to a museum, that’s not possible with Stone Mountain. The only way to “remove” it would be the wholesale destruction of the carvings.
Gerald Griggs, a vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, is okay with that. He has personally called for the monument to be scraped from the side of the mountain.
“Here we are in Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and still we have the largest Confederate monument in the world. It’s time for our state to get on the right side of history,” he said previously.