Militia groups and heavily armed right-wing activists gathered Saturday outside Stone Mountain, Georgia to hold a rally in support of the Confederate monument on the mountain’s North Face. The event was countered by the F.L.O.W.E.R. Coalition (FrontLine Organization Working to End Racism), a group of protesters – some armed – who view the monument as a lasting relic to white supremacy.
Violence broke out between the two sides, with brawls leaving several injuries. No shots were fired, and no arrests were made.
Police stayed out of the conflict for the first five hours. In the early afternoon, police declared the event unlawful and forced both sides to disperse.
The carving, which had been worked on until 1928, depicts Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. It was originally funded in part with aid from the Ku Klux Klan. In 1960, the State of Georgia bought the property, rendering it a state park.
The City of Stone Mountain announced Friday evening that the entire park would be closed due to the demonstrations.
Chris Hill led the Georgia Chapter of the III% Security Force into the event.
The activists supporting the monument organized under the monicker of “Heritage Not Hate.”
Atlanta Antifa, which is itself a part of the F.L.O.W.E.R. coalition, disagrees, calling Stone Mountain a “racist landmark.” Ahead of the event, they released an article noting the promotion of the event by formerly avowed neo-Nazi Adam Wesley Sitton, 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally participant Chester Doles, and avowed white nationalist Michael “Weaver” Carothers. None of the three ultimately participated Saturday.
“III%” refers to the historical theory that only three percent of the population of the American colonies participated in the revolution against Britain. It is now used by right-of-center non-government militia groups in the United States.
The all-Black “Not F***ing Around Coalition” (NFAC) militia had been rumored to attend the event, but confirmed Wednesday evening that they would not be coming. The NFAC held an armed march in early July at Stone Mountain also advocating the removal of the confederate monument.
In February 2019, the F.L.O.W.E.R. Coalition held a march unopposed after right-wingers cancelled their plans to hold a rally in support of the monument. The group burned an effigy of a Klansman and chanted “Sandblast Stone Mountain!”