White supremacists and counterprotesters were prevented from physical violence Saturday at Stone Mountain state park in Georgia.
About 200 members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans gathered at the mountain for Confederate Memorial Day, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. They were met by around 100 counterprotesters. The groups were separated by law enforcement.
Stone Mountain is famous for its humongous rock carving of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The Ku Klux Klan was reborn atop the mountain in 1915.
Though the groups were limited to verbal sparring, they still managed to get on each others’ nerves, according to the AJC. The keynote speaker for the Confederate apologists, Martin O’Toole, had to shout over the anti-racist protesters.
The Confederate groups, rife with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, attempt to gather at Stone Mountain every year for Confederate Memorial Day. The state park shut them out last year, citing COVID.
“There are more of us than you think, people who think like us,” attendee Randy Sheppard told the AJC. “White nationalists, pro-Confederate, pro-white.”
Several groups, including the DeKalb County NAACP, called for Stone Mountain to turn away Sheppard and his friends again this year. The park nonetheless approved the gathering in March.
“This mountain is a symbol of hate. It’s a symbol of people that supported segregation,” counterprotester Brian Smith told the AJC. “It’s just a stain on the state of Georgia. A state-funded park that supports this kind of evil.”
No Civil War events occurred at Stone Mountain. The state park officially opened April 14, 1965 – exactly 100 years after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The carving was dedicated in 1970, though it had been in the works for decades.