On September 14, groups opposing white supremacy gathered in the small Georgia tourist town of Dahlonega to counterprotest a so-called “First Amendment Event.” The event in question was organized by Chester Doles, a long-time white supremacist. Doles was formerly a Klan leader as well as a former leader of the white supremacist National Alliance. He still remains close to racist organizations such as the violent and racist Hammerskins gang, and its supporter club Crew 38. Ultimately, the event went off without any sort of major conflict and only a small number of arrests. Groups including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Workers World Party, the Socialist Coalition of North Georgia as well as the local Unitarian Universalist Church of Dahlonega among others participated in a counterprotest to the rally and easily outnumbered the paltry attendance for the fascist event. In addition, the townspeople of Dahlonega covered the town in gold ribbons in a show of resistance. Fliers about the effort included the line “Hate has no home in our hearts of gold.”
Among the racist speakers at the so-called First Amendment event were Chester Doles himself; Jovi Val, a former Proud Boy and neo-Nazi; Lucretia Hughes, a far-right radio host; and Charles Lincoln III, a disbarred lawyer and member of the fascist American Freedom Party, which advocates for stripping U.S. citizenship from all nonwhite people. The event itself was so poorly attended that Charles Lincoln III even intoned during his speech, “I guess I specialize in under-attended events.” In addition to the fascist speakers, the rally was promoted ahead of time on far-right outlets such as the neo-Nazi forum Stormfront and white supremacist blog White Information Network.
There was a significant police presence at the event. Officers were outfitted in full riot gear and stood in rows surrounding the town courthouse. Law enforcement drones buzzed overhead and bottleneck checkpoints were set up leading to barricaded areas where each side of the event was held. On the side of the counter-protest, a large sign listing prohibited items stood ominously over peaceful protesters. Created specifically for the counter-protest, ordinances were enacted to deal with the perceived threat of an ‘Antifa’ invasion rather than the threat of white supremacists. At the checkpoint, protesters were turned away for carrying items such as dulled medical scissors, megaphones and small wooden sticks attached to signs.
On the other side, the rally attendees were allowed to carry in unloaded firearms and metal flagpoles bearing pro-Trump signs or U.S. flags with the 13 stars of the original colonies on them. The police also forbade water bottles from being carried into the event causing several medical issues during the rally due to the scorching Georgia heat. The police succeeded in interfering with trained medics who were helping those with heat exhaustion, in addition to making them move their needed supplies of water, food, and other essential items further away from the exit of the protest area. The heavy police presence had little to do with making people safe and more to do with intimidating counter-protesters, thus illustrating the nature of a militarized police force and the state in protecting fascist elements in our society.
The only lasting success of the white supremacist rally itself seems to have been damaging the local economy of Dahlonega as local businesses had to be closed during the day in order to accommodate the police presence around the site of the rally. This seems to have gone unnoticed by the attendees of the rally. What could not be ignored, however, were the chants from the counter-protestors, “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA!”