White supremacists were a no-show at a planned rally at a Georgia Confederate monument Saturday as local authorities cracked down and determined counterprotesters torched a Klansman in effigy.
The self-described white supremacists, including members of the Ku Klux Klan, had planned to rally on the eve of the Super Bowl some 15 miles east of Atlanta at Stone Mountain Park, where Confederate leaders are etched into a giant rockface. But law enforcement authorities, who had denied the group a permit, shut down the 3,600-acre park, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Though the supremacist rally fizzled, hundreds of counterprotesters — several of them armed — marched in the nearby town of Stone Mountain Village chanting: “Good Night, Alt Right” and “Goodbye Klan.” Protesters held signs reading “Death to the KKK,” “Dixie Be Damned” and “Sandblast Stone Mountain.” The highlight of the rally was the torching of the Klansman figure.
Tweets by organizers of the effigy burning informed spectators that the burned Klansman was “eco-friendly” and made of “paper and cardboard that would not produce nasty fumes when burned!”
Late last year local authorities denied a rally permit to the organizers of the planned right-wing “Rock Stone Mountain II” rally. The two men behind the “pro-white” rally — one of them an admitted member of the KKK — had organized a poorly attended “white power” event at the same site in 2016. The event, however, drew hundreds of counterprotesters who clashed with police. Officials cited a “clear and present danger” to public safety in denying the permit, the Journal-Constitution reported.
“To hell with their permit. The Constitution is our permit,” white nationalist activist Michael Weaver declared after the decision by authorities. “We move forward. We aren’t going to be discriminated against because you don’t like our views.”
Members of the group, however, indicated Thursday that the rally wouldn’t likely come off because of infighting among members.
Another activist said it was because of fear of violence by counterprotesters.
Atlanta resident Sean McSorley, who was on the street during Saturday’s rally, praised the counterprotesters.
“As long as these backwards, racist … people are not able to do what they intended, I’m happy with the results,” he told the Journal-Constitution.