Security upped in Newnan ahead of planned neo-Nazi rally

Barricades designed to separate some neo-Nazis who are planning on holding a rally Saturday from a group of counterprotesters now line the streets of downtown Newnan.

Business owners are making sure everything in their shops is safe ahead of the rally.

Police expect between 50 and 100 members of a group called the National Socialist Movement to hold a rally in Greenville Street Park starting at 3 p.m. Saturday.

James McCalla owns a tax office across the street from where the neo-Nazis will gather.

He told Channel 2’s Berndt Petersen that he took everything of value out of the building.

"I figured I was ground zero. I was worried about what might happen," McCalla said.

McCalla owns the building across the street from the park, where the group has a permit to rally.


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"We're afraid of the possibility that somebody might throw a brick through the window or they may throw something flammable through the window. We just wanted to be safe rather than sorry," McCalla told Petersen.

Police have said they do not want a repeat of what happened last summer during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person was killed and 19 others were hurt.

McCalla said he won't be around during Saturday’s rally. He has packed up his RV and is pulling out of town.

"Why not just go on vacation? Normally, I go on vacation right after tax season anyway," McCalla told Petersen.

In a call for unity in the face of what's about to happen in the small city, local churches, organized a prayer rally Friday night at the park that will be the site of hateful emotions on Saturday.

Channel 2’s Christian Jennings watched as people from all races and walks of life came together to pray and to show love instead of hate.

“We felt a need to come and pray at the park, to saturate the atmosphere with prayer and the power of God so it will keep peace and harmony tomorrow,” prayer rally organizer Nora Nelson said.

Dozens showed up and used their voices to pray and their hands to write messages of peace.

“What’s happening tomorrow is not about the residents here in Newnan. They’re coming from out of town,” Newnan resident Scott McInnis told Jennings.

Prayer rally organizer Debra Harris said she’s praying for the safety of everyone who will be at the rally Saturday -- the neo-Nazis, the counterprotesters and the hundreds of police officers expected to fill the streets of this small town.

“We are all about love and, at the end, love conquers all, and our message tomorrow is to let them know God loves them too, even though they are about hate,” Harris said. 

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