Georgia Capitol police warn about planned armed protest against Islam

State Capitol police put out a warning Monday about a Martinez man planning a rally against Islam, with participants carrying guns, outside the statehouse on April 18.

The organizer has promised to shred a Koran as part of the event.

“The Georgia Department of Public Safety and the Georgia Building Authority anticipate a non-permitted, anti-Islamic protest on the sidewalks of the Georgia State Capitol,” Capitol Police Director Lewis G. Young said in his advisory to state employees. “You are hereby notified that protest organizers have encouraged their participants to carry loaded long guns.

“DPS is currently monitoring the threat risk and, together with GBA, is taking precautions to make Capitol Hill a safe environment,” it continued.

The Georgia Building Authority had earlier turned down a request for a permit for a “United against Islam and Islamic immigration refugee rally” at Liberty Plaza from James Stachowiak, who dubs himself the founder and editor of Freedom Fighter Radio.

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In a February email obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stachowiak says the rally is to “raise public awareness to what we perceive as a threat to our nation from Islamic immigration and refugees. Also the dangerous agenda of the current administration.”

“We plan to have speakers address this or should I say these issues,” he wrote in the email. “We also plan to shred images of (President Barack) Obama, Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton and Muhammad along with the shredding of the Koran.

“This will be an open carry event with the use of long arms as Georgia law allows.”

Stachowiak said those attending the rally would march on the sidewalks to the front of CNN “and speak again against the threat of Islamic immigration and refugees and the dangerous agenda of the Obama administration.” He added that a Koran “will be desecrated on the sidewalks on the public right of away (sic) at the front entrance of CNN.”

Stachowiak predicted 200 would attend.

Steve Stancil, the head of the Georgia Building Authority, did not give a reason for turning down the Liberty Plaza permit request. But GBA officials said it is unusual to turn down a request.

Gun-toting rallies aren’t necessarily unusual at the Capitol. Armed supporters of gun rights have held events outside the Capitol in the past.

Last summer Stachowiak brought an assault rifle and pistol to the Augusta Mall area — he said to help protect those in nearby military recruiting offices — after five servicemen were killed during a July 16 shooting rampage by Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez in Chattanooga, Tenn. Stachowiak stood in front of an anti-Islamic sign, and the imam of a Martinez Islamic center said the center reported him to the FBI.

The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA) called on Stachowiak to cancel his rally and instead “engage in respectful dialogue with their American Muslim neighbors.”

“Hatred of Muslims and Islam stems from ignorance,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the executive director of CAIR-GA. “We encourage these protesters to put down their guns, cancel their unsanctioned rally, and meet with representatives of our state’s Muslim community for an open and frank discussion of their concerns.”

“As American Muslims, we do not begrudge our neighbors the right to publicly challenge us or our faith,” Mitchell said. “But as Americans, we should always debate each other in a civil, respectful and safe manner.”

If the rally goes forward, Mitchell said CAIR-GA is urging people to ignore it “so as to deprive the organizers of the free publicity they seek for their message of hate.”

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