This summer of mass protests against police brutality and the brutality of this capitalist system more broadly has stirred up a predictable reaction from the far-right, leading several of Georgia’s most notorious racists to plan an Aug. 15 march up Stone Mountain, about 30 minutes east of Atlanta, to prove the vitality of the racist right in Georgia.
Stone Mountain holds special significance for neo-Confederates; it is the largest Confederate monument in the world and the site upon which the modern Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1915. The organizers of the far-right rally lied to their compatriots and claimed they had a permit to march to the top of Stone Mountain.
When it was revealed that the permit request was denied and that Stone Mountain Park would close to avoid any clashes, the far-right’s planning efforts seemed to collapse. There were simultaneous announcements that the rally would be moved to a location over 40 minutes away and that it would take place at the same meeting point as the anti-racists. When it came to the morning of Aug. 15 though, only 5 or 10 rightwingers were to be found at any given point.
Hundreds of activists and community members descended on Stone Mountain Village early in the morning to stand against the planned far-right march and rally. The anti-racist rally, organized by FLOWER United, brought together various left-leaning groups around Atlanta and the South. Monica Johnson, a member of Atlanta Party for Socialism and Liberation, emceed the event. The rhetoric used by her and other speakers from Atlanta NAACP, Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America and the Socialist Coalition of North Georgia emphasized the importance of bringing the energy behind mobilizations such as the one taking place into organized political action that has the chance to bring about long-lasting change. Chants of “Sandblast Stone Mountain” cut through the air.
The organizers of the rally created an atmosphere that would minimize the chance of serious violence or arrests. Although there were several scuffles between groups and plenty of flag snatch-and-burns, there were only a few injuries reported and the crowd was largely left alone by Stone Mountain police. Organizers enlisted an armed security team that isolated and stood against unruly right-wingers. PSL members were instrumental in the rally’s success, leading chants, playing music, and helping shepherd the mass of people into spaces where they could not be kettled by cops or suddenly attacked by right-wingers. By about noon, victory was declared and most people dispersed, leaving the riot police and National Guard that was deployed with little to do.