Members of Confederate and white supremacist organizations clashed with counter-demonstrators in Georgia on Saturday after a far-right rally turned into a violent conflict between opposing groups.
Several dozen right-wing activists with rifles and Confederate flags gathered in the Stone Mountain suburb of Atlanta near Stone Mountain Park, which is home to a giant sculpture of Confederate leaders.
The three percent militia that organized the event moved last month to hold a more than 2,000-strong rally in response to an all-black militia march in the park to "defend our history and the rights of the Second Amendment." to protect "on July 4th.
However, the application was denied by state officials who cited violence at a similar event in 2016. Stone Mountain Memorial Association spokesman John Bankhead said the park denied permission on Aug. 4.
In a statement ahead of the planned rally on Friday, Stone Mountain Park announced that it would close its gates to the public for security reasons.
But several online groups, including one called Defending Stone Mountain, who had vowed to march in the park anyway and asked participants to come with Confederate and US flags, gathered in with rifles and military equipment downtown.
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The mayhem occurred on Saturday in Stone Mountain, Georgia, during a far-right rally organized by Confederate and white supremacist groups
Members of right-wing groups clashed with counter-demonstrators (pictured) after groups Black Lives Matter and Antifa showed up at the event
A counter-demonstrator with a placard calling for the Confederate memorial to be removed faces a member of an opposing group
In the first hours of the rally it was relatively peaceful, apart from a few thrusting and urgent and spirited arguments
Brawls eventually broke out in the crowd, prompting police to intervene and disperse the protesters
State and city officials prepared for violence ahead of Friday's rally and closed Stone Mountain Park, where organizers originally intended to hold the event
A man wearing a Trump 2020 hat was seen arguing with a woman protesting against racism and white supremacy
Stone Mountain Park is famous for its giant rock sculpture of the Confederate Civil War figures Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. The sculpture is America's largest Confederate memorial
Meanwhile, hundreds of counter-demonstrators, many of them wearing shirts or signs showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, came out on the march. People in both groups carried guns.
The chaos unfolded in the city, officials feared, on Saturday afternoon when the rival groups competed against each other.
Members of right-wing groups proudly waving their Confederate flags faced anti-racist and anti-fascist activists.
There was hardly any police presence in sight for several hours, and things were largely peaceful, save for a few thrusting and pressing and spirited arguments.
Right-wing activists competed against a few hundred counter-demonstrators, many of whom wore shirts or signs showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement
A man armed with a rifle holds up a banner that reads "All Lives Matter" while other far-right participants waved the Confederate and Trump 2020 flags
Hundreds of counter-demonstrators, including members of anti-racist and anti-fascist organizations who expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, attended the rally
Anti-racism protesters set Confederate battle flags in the middle of the street
The protests had been generally peaceful until 1 p.m. when fighting broke out, with people punching and kicking each other and throwing stones
Several dozen right-wing protesters dressed in military gear attended the rally. A man with a Bible speaks to protesters during the event
Some left activists set Confederate battle flags on fire.
But shortly before 1 p.m. there was fighting in which people punched and kicked each other and threw stones. At this point, police in riot gear were drafting to disperse the crowd.
Stone Mountain city officials advised people on Friday to stay out of the city all day, stay at home and close shops.
"Do not confront the protesters," the city wrote in a public announcement on social media.
"Please know that the city's local law enforcement agency is managing the situation and has drawn up a plan to protect lives and property," the announcement continued.
"Every effort is made to ensure that demonstrations within the city limits are carried out peacefully and without incident."
Last year, the park was also closed instead of promoting a rally organized by white supremacists.
Demonstrators from opposing sides had an intensive exchange with one another
The National Guard was eventually dispatched to downtown Stone Mountain to disperse protesters as militia groups competed against each other
Heavily armed militias marched in downtown Stone Mountain for a rally "to defend and protect our history and the rights of the Second Amendment".
A right-wing activist was photographed with a firearm in his shorts during the rally. People from both sides were seen carrying guns
Bankhead said the police would be present to keep protesters out and The park will reopen on Sunday.
The predominantly black protesters on July 4th spoke out against the giant sculpture that depicts General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Thomas J. & # 39; Stonewall & # 39; Jackson represents.
Carved into a mountain of granite, the bas-relief sculpture is the largest Confederate memorial ever made.
The 100 to 200 demonstrators, many of them with large guns, were peaceful.
Although the park was historically a meeting place for white supremacists, the adjacent town of Stone Mountain now has a black-majority population.
Stone Mountain Park markets itself as a family theme park rather than a shrine to the "Lost Cause" mythology that romanticizes the Confederation as the chivalrous defender of state rights.
It's a popular getaway for many families in east Atlanta, with hiking trails, a golf course, boat rentals, and other attractions. The park has long been known for its laser light shows, but these have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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