Hutzel was among a handful of activists arrested for violating the state's anti-mask law even before the neo-Nazi rally began. The encounter was captured, in part, by a reporter for the Huffington Post who recorded an unidentified officer warning a crowd of counter-demonstrators.
“State law requires you to remove your mask right now,” the officer said, pointing the crowd. “You will do it right now or you will be arrested.”
The group started chanting, “Cops and Nazis sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”
“You will be arrested,” the officer said, reaching to his belt and removing plastic handcuffs.
The National Socialist Movement held a rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
In the lawsuit, Hutzel acknowledges wearing a bandana, but said he did so to protect himself from harassment from the neo-Nazi group and not to intimidate others. Cepar said violations of the anti-mask law, passed decades ago to control the Ku Klux Klan, requires an act of intimidation and scoffed at the idea that the childish chant intimidated the police.
Hanley was arrested later on his way to the rally when he says he was targeted because he had a bullhorn. He was charged with obstruction of an officer for failing to stay on the sidewalk, but that charge ultimately was dropped.
A counterprotester is held by police as the National Socialist Movement holds a rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Two of the counterprotesters are now suing Coweta County and police for violating their civil rights. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Coweta County Sheriff Lenn Wood said his officers followed state law and the directions of the lead agencies overseeing the police response.
“Our team members acted in good faith to faithfully protect everyone involved that day during moments of tense, uncertain and rapidly unfolding events between counter-protesters and law enforcement,” he said.
The county has not formally responded to the either lawsuit, both of which seek unspecified damages.