Georgia activists John Michael Estes (left) and Greg Calhoun (right), organizers of the “white power” demonstration “Rock Stone Mountain,” pose prior to an April 2016 rally. Estes and other organizers have called off a similar rally scheduled for Saturday at Stone Mountain Park during Super Bowl weekend.
Photo: Chris Joyner
Photo: Chris Joyner

‘Pro-white’ rally at Stone Mountain collapses amid internal strife

A Saturday rally at Stone Mountain by small group of white supremacists and white nationalists seeking to grab media attention during Super Bowl weekend has collapsed amid apparent infighting and fears for their personal safety.

“The event was undermined by people who were supposed to be on my side,” said John Michael Estes, a white supremacist and one of the main organizers of the rally. “All I can say is short of me showing up by myself, there is no hope of an event.”

Estes, a Hapeville resident who associates with neo-Nazi and other far-right movements, made his comments on a Facebook video Wednesday evening. Estes claimed the event, dubbed Rock Stone Mountain II, had “a lot of support” and blamed “rats and operatives and undercover informants” for the collapse.

“There were some key people that offered to help but all they did was stir the bucket and get things riled up and didn’t really help they undermined the gears and pulled wires out,” he said. “Here I am, I stand alone.”

On Thursday, Michael Weaver, another far-right activist who had emerged as the principal spokesman for the event, released a written statement saying the rally had been postponed until a future date out of fears of violence from counter-protesters.

“Do not look at this as us running away with our tail between our legs or ‘scared’ of a fight,” Weaver wrote. “We will take the fight to the courts and other political and media platforms to preserve our freedom of speech and will have an event at a later time when we have everything we need to secure our perimeters legally and have a successful event.”

While the rally organizers called off the event, as of Thursday afternoon counter-protesters were still planning on showing up in force.

“Despite ‘Rock Stone Mountain II’ being in disarray, white supremacists may still attempt a presence at Stone Mountain Park this Saturday. Show up & stop them!” Atlanta Antifascists, one of the counter-protest groups, posted on Twitter.

Later, a statement released by the umbrella group representing the counter-protesters described the cancellation as a "complete vindication of the broader anti-racist strategy of relentless opposition to white supremacy." The statement said the counter-protest would continue as planned "but in a spirit of celebration."

"We encourage the whole community to show up and celebrate this victory," the statement said.

The two groups faced off at a similar “white power” rally in April 2016, drawing hundreds of counter-protesters, some of whom clashed with police and forced the park to close early.

This planned rally faced problems from its beginning.

The Stone Mountain Memorial Association denied the group a permit to hold the rally in November on grounds that the event would “disrupt Stone Mountain Park and presents a clear and present danger to the public health or safety.” As recently as last week, organizers of the rally were encouraging supporters to ignore the permit denial and show up anyway, spreading out through the park in spontaneous demonstrations.

Most of the organization for the rally occurred on the group’s Facebook page, but this week the social media giant deleted the page and the event planning page for promoting “organized hate,” according to a spokesperson. Rock Stone Mountain likewise saw its Twitter account suspended.

Policing large crowds of protesters at the 3,200-acre, state-owned park is a problem on a regular weekend. With the Super Bowl festivities downtown, the park will have fewer police from outside agencies to help.

OUR REPORTING

The AJC has reported extensively on protest groups targeting Confederate symbols at Stone Mountain Park and other locations around Georgia, including apparent efforts by Russian-backed trolls to incite unrest at the park in 2016.The reporting has included coverage of white nationalist organizations and other groups that seek to counter extremist beliefs.

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