A heavily armed coalition of anti-racist and anti-fascist groups assembled Saturday to oppose a planned neo-confederate rally at Stone Mountain Park, Georgia.
The event dubbed “Rock Stone Mountain” had been planned for months and was expected to attract white nationalist activists, but was cancelled right before taking place. The antifa coalition, which donned the name FLOWER (“Frontline organizations working together to end racism”) stuck with their original plan to assemble outside the park.
The park itself had announced Friday night that it wouldn’t allow anyone inside.
FLOWER’s coalition included communists, socialists, unions, left-wing militias, and other left-wing activists.
The group marched around the Stone Mountain community as a “victory lap” for the cancelled right-wing event.
“The nightmare scenario is that somebody decides to be a lone wolf and pulls something like what happened in Charlottesville,” an organizer who wished to be identified as “Firebug” said before the event. To that end, the group had left-wing militia groups with long rifles and shotguns act as a roving perimeter around the demonstration.
The activists stopped at the Stone Mountain visitor center, where the demanded that authorities “sand blast Stone Mountain!” They then produced an effigy of a Ku Klux Klan member, complete with a swastika on its chest, which they lit on fire.
Activist Molly “@socialistdogmom” lit her cigarette on the makeshift campfire.
After antifa finished their burning, police came and extinguished the remains. Other than that brief involvement, police mostly took a hands-off approach to the demonstration, declining to interfere or make arrests.
One masked activist gave a speech at the end of his event, noting that antifa’s American roots from 2017 anti-Milo Yiannopoulos protests at Berkeley “have blossomed into a full-stemmed revolutionary flower” and that the white nationalist no-show was proof of their power.
“You can’t just talk tough, you have to walk it,” said Christopher Goad. Based in Virginia, Goad participated in counter-demonstrations in Charlottesville as well. “We weren’t looking for enemies. We weren’t starting fights. If the presence that we had was enough to deter anything that happened, then that’s what happened.”