Stone Mountain rally turns into chaos as rival groups face off

Right-wing militia and white supremacist groups clash with BLM protesters and Antifa at far-right rally in Stone Mountain – as the home of the largest monument to the Confederacy braces for violence

  • Pro-Confederate and white supremacist groups gathered near Stone Mountain Park in Georgia on Saturday
  • The park – famed for its giant sculpture of Confederate leaders – was closed ahead of the far-right rally after officials feared it would spark violence between rival groups 
  • The Three Percenters militia had applied to hold the event on park grounds, but were denied a permit
  • The rally continued anyway, with participants gathering in downtown Stone Mountain with guns, Confederate and US flags  

Members of pro-Confederate and white supremacist organizations clashed with counter-protesters in Georgia on Saturday after a far-right rally turned into a violent standoff between opposing groups. 

Several dozen right-wing activists toting rifles and Confederate battle flags gathered in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain, near Stone Mountain Park, home to a giant sculpture of Confederate leaders.

The Three Percenters militia, which organized the event, had applied last month to hold a more than 2,000-strong rally ‘to defend and protect our history and second Amendment rights’ at the park, in response to a march by an all-Black militia held on July 4.

The application however, was denied by state officials who cited violence at a similar event in 2016. Stone Mountain Memorial Association spokesperson John Bankhead said the park denied the permit on August 4.  

In a statement ahead of the planned rally on Friday, Stone Mountain Park announced it would close its gates to the public due to security concerns. 

But several online groups, including one dubbed ‘Defending Stone Mountain,’ that vowed to march in the park anyway, gathered in downtown Stone Mountain armed with rifles and military gear.  

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Tensions between the two rival groups reached a boiling point in Stone Mountain on Saturday as brawls broke out among members of opposing sides 

Members of right-wing groups clashed with counter-protesters (pictured) after members of the Black Lives Matter movement and Antifa groups descended on the event 

A counter demonstrator holding a placard calling for the removal of the Confederate monument is seen facing off with a member of an opposing group 

For the first few hours of the rally, things were relatively peaceful, aside from some shoving and pushing and spirited arguments

 Brawls eventually broke out among the crowd, prompting police to step in and disperse protesters 

State and city officials braced for a violence ahead of the rally on Friday, closing Stone Mountain Park, where event organizers initially intended to hold the event 

A man wearing a Trump 2020 cap was seen arguing with a woman protesting against racism and white supremacy 

Stone Mountain Park is famed for its giant rock sculpture of Confederate Civil War figures Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. The sculpture is America’s largest Confederate memorial

Meanwhile, hundreds of counter-protesters many of whom wore shirts or carried signs expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement descended on the march. 

Chaos unfolded in the city, just as officials had feared, as the rival groups faced off with each other for hours. People on both sides carried rifles.

Members of right-wing groups proudly waving their Confederate flags were seen coming face to face with anti-racism and anti-fascist activists. 

For several hours, there was little visible police presence and things were largely peaceful, aside from some shoving and pushing and spirited arguments. 

Several Black Lives Matter supporters were seen in heated confrontations with far-right activists, many of whom were Trump 2020 shirts and hats. 

Right wing activists faced off against a few hundred counter-protesters, many of whom wore shirts or carried signs expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement

A man armed with a rifle holds up an ‘All Lives Matter’ banner while other far-right participants waved Confederate and Trump 2020 flags

Hundreds of counter-protesters including members of anti-racist and anti-fascist organizations expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement descended on to the rally 

Anti-racism protesters were seen setting Confederate battle flags in the middle of the street 

Protests had been generally peaceful up until 1pm when fights broke out, with people punching and kicking each other and throwing rocks

Several dozen right-wing demonstrators wearing military gear attended the rally. A man holding a bible is pictured speaking to protesters during the event 

Some left-wing activists were seen setting Confederate battle flags alight. 

But just before 1pm, fights broke out, with people punching and kicking each other and throwing rocks. That’s when police officers in riot gear moved in to disperse the crowds. 

Officials for the city of Stone Mountain had advised people Friday to stay away from the city all day, residents to stay home and businesses to shut down.

‘Do not confront the protesters,’ the city wrote in a public announcement posted on social media. 

‘Please know that the city’s local law enforcement agency is managing the situation and has devised a plan for the protection of life and property,’ the announcement continued. 

‘Every effort is being made to ensure that any demonstrations conducted within the city’s limits are performed peacefully and without incident.’

Last year, the park also closed down rather than allow a rally organized by white supremacists to go forward. 

A fight breaks out between demonstrators and counter demonstrators after tensions between the two groups boiled over

Protesters from opposing sides were seen having intense confrontations with each other

The National Guard was eventually deployed to downtown Stone Mountain to disperse protesters as various militia groups faced off

Police officers wore riot gear to 

Heavily armed militia marched in downtown Stone Mountain as part of a rally ‘to defend and protect our history and second Amendment rights’

One right-wing activist was photographed with a firearm tucked in his shorts during the rally. People from both sides were seen carrying rifles 

Bankhead said police would be present to keep demonstrators away and the park will reopen Sunday. 

The predominantly black demonstrators on July 4 spoke out against the huge sculpture depicting General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. 

Carved into a granite mountain, the bas-relief sculpture is the largest Confederate monument ever crafted.

The 100 to 200 protesters, many of whom carried large rifles, were peaceful.

Although the park has historically been a gathering spot for white supremacists, the adjoining city of Stone Mountain has a majority-Black population today.

The park at Stone Mountain markets itself as a family theme park rather than a shrine to the ‘Lost Cause’ mythology that romanticizes the Confederacy as chivalrous defenders of states’rights. 

It’s a popular recreation spot for many families on the east side of Atlanta, with hiking trails, a golf course, boat rentals and other attractions. The park has long been known for its laser light shows, but those have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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