“We’re here,” he said. “Where you at? We’re in your house. Let’s go.”
Extremist groups, including far-right militia groups known as “Three Percenters,” responded almost immediately by announcing a rally Aug. 15 at the park. The coalition of groups includes neo-Confederates, white supremacists and other far-right groups, nominally led by an Arkansas-based militia called Confederate States III%.
Organizers applied for a permit to hold the rally July 27. The park denied the permit on Aug. 4, citing the potential for violence. Stone Mountain Memorial Association spokesman John Bankhead said the park has not received any other permit applications.
Last year, the park closed down rather than allow a rally organized by white supremacists to go forward.
City Manager ChaQuias Miller-Thornton said the city of Stone Mountain also received a permit request for a rally, but that too was denied because it was received too close to the requested date. Nevertheless, the organizers have continued to claim on social media that they have valid permits from both places.
In Atlanta, a coalition of anti-racist organizations, including the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, but also socialist and antifa groups, are planning a counter demonstration.
Stone Mountain has long been a national flash point for the tensions over race and Confederate imagery, but it has attracted large and contentious rallies since a white supremacist killed nine people in a Black church in Charleston in 2015. States and local government responded to the massacre by removing some Confederate symbols — especially the Confederate battle flag — from public places, prompting protests from groups who claimed the removals were an attempt to “erase” history. The backlash became especially motivating to white supremacist groups, but also to groups like the Three Percenters who view the removals of Confederate monuments as government overreach.
Before the NFAC announced it would not be a Stone Mountain, white supremacists viewed the possible showdown as an opportunity. On a prominent neo-Nazi internet forum, longtime white supremacist leader Billy Roper predicted the rally would “racially awaken a lot of the answering militia” to a coming “civil war.”