Stone Mountain. Image via Wikipedia.
UPDATED JAN. 25: The permit for the Rock Stone Mountain II white power rally was denied by Stone Mountain Park officials in November, but the refusal may not stop hate groups from gathering.
On Jan. 19, an update was posted to the Rock Stone Mountain Facebook page, stating that although their permit was denied and no lawyer was willing to legally challenge the rejection, Confederate groups and white supremacists should still plan to visit the park on Feb. 2.
“Groups of 25 or less are not required to file a permit, the post reads. “This is a clarion call to every Nationalist group, Confederate organization, and every individual that has the courage to stand against the rise of Communism to visit Stone Mountain on February 2 and to make your presence known – loud and proud.”
The organizers of this rally are the same who planned the 2016 rally of the same name, according to the AJC. Only about two dozen white supremacists showed up for the event, but it drew hundreds of counter-demonstrators that ended in violent confrontations.
“If you want to flag the entrances, do that. If you want to rally before the carving, do that. If you want to defend the park from Antifa vandals, do that,” the post reads. “If you are coming alone you shall surely find somewhere to fit in. This is a public park. Let’s show them it’s still a free country and make the entire park our playground.”
Michael Weaver, the event’s spokesperson, reached out to Atlanta Loop via email saying, “both the U.S. Constitution and the Georgia State Constitution Trumps their ordinance.” He then linked to several blog posts on the White Information Network that claim to prove park officials had no legal basis for denying the rally’s permit.
Weaver, whose given name is Michael Carothers, pleaded guilty in 2011 to aggravated assault for pepper spraying a black man in Columbus, Ga., according to the AJC. Weaver was banished from the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit as part of his sentence, they report.
The plan to go ahead with unsanctioned rally prompted several left-wing organizations, under the umbrella coalition called Frontline Organization Working to End Racism, or FLOWER, to organize a counter protest. FLOWER representation told Atlanta Loop they will also be coming together loosely rather than formally organizing and as such, have not sought a permit from the park.
“The FLOWER anti-racist coalition views this as a clear threat to marginalized communities and any opponents of racist monuments, and in response will mobilize a mass presence at Stone Mountain Park that day, to block white supremacists who are now planning a decentralized invasion of the park,” the group’s statement reads.
Stone Mountain Police weren’t immediately available for comment on the rally, but the AJC notes that in 2016 the small force was able to rely on Georgia State Police to help quell violence in the park. Now, with the Super Bowl in town, that support might not be forthcoming.
However, FLOWER representation told Atlanta Loop violence is not their priority. “FLOWER is a broad coalition of different groups. Many of these groups are committed to nonviolent resistance,” a group spokesperson wrote via email. “Other groups are committed to the right of self-defense against racism and repression. However, all of us agree with the points of unity listed on the website, and all of us want to keep the greater community of Stone Mountain safe from racist violence.”
This story is ongoing and will be updated as new information is released.