White supremacists and the Confederate flag

Stone Mountain has become a flash point in the ongoing debate about the future public display of Confederate symbols, attracting extreme viewpoints from both sides.

While protesters seeking to protect the display of the Confederate battle flag and the Stone Mountain carving have repeated the mantra "heritage not hate," the movement has within it white supremacist elements, including the Ku Klux Klan.

It's perhaps not surprising when you consider Stone Mountain has long been a gathering place for the Ku Klux Klan, which has co-opted Confederate symbols, including the battle flag.

Reporters were aware of white supremacist elements during the Nov. 14 pro-flag rally at Stone Mountain. After the event The Atlanta Journal Constitution took a closer look and found much stronger Klan connections.

Pro-Confederate flag supporters offer a Klan salute at a November rally at Stone Mountain. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

In fact, the organizers of the rally are Cedartown residents affiliated with the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Now a more openly "white power" rally is planned for the mountain.

One of people behind that planned rally called the AJC Thursday afternoon to explain why.

“There's a lot of the work that needs to be done in the pro-white movement," the man, who gave the false name "John E. Rebel," said.

He said he and his like-minded friends are fighting back against what they see as "white genocide."

“We’re already seeing our monuments being attacked,” he said. “We’re being erased from the history books.”

While indicating his group would be peaceful, he stressed the group is prepared to defend itself against violence from counter protesters -- "so-called anti-fascists," he said. He said a white power concert is planned for after the rally at an undisclosed, "more intimate" location.

The organizer of a planned white power rally at Stone Mountain posted this link to a white supremacist band on the Facebook page promoting the rally.

The Facebook page set up to promote the event includes links to various white power bands, including a song called "Welcome to the South" by North Carolina-based band called Definite Hate, the video for which opens with a noose superimposed over a Confederate flag.

The planned April rally reveals an interesting division within the Klan community. Jeremy White, a member of the North Georgia White Knights, attended the November rally but said he plans to "steer clear" of the white power rally.

"We're not out here for hate," he said. "We're here to protect what we have."

He said he and others are planning another event at Stone Mountain in January that focuses on Southern heritage.

White said he goes into his county's schools to tell children about the Civil War and the role blacks played. (He wouldn't say which county for fear of reprisals.) He also said he is a supervisor in a manufacturing plant with a diverse workforce.

“I don’t have a hateful bone in my body," he said, saying he joined the Klan after researching his genealogy.

At the November rally, White can be seen giving a Klan salute while wearing a shirt with a quote from white supremacist David Lane, who died in federal prison while serving 190 years on charges related to the murder of a Jewish radio host. The quote encircles a symbol favored by German Nazis under Adolph Hitler.

White said he bought the shirt online at a site called Tightrope, which uses a noose as its logo. He said he was unaware of the site's logo and at the rally said he did not know the origin of the quote.

When asked, White said he didn't consider himself a racist.

“Hell, I speak four languages," he said. "Not many racists go out there and learn Spanish so they could do their job better.”

You can read more about the November rally's Klan connections here.

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About the Author

Chris Joyner
Chris Joyner
Chris Joyner is an investigative reporter. An Atlanta native, Joyner has been with the AJC since 2010.