Civil rights activists protest Confederate Memorial Day at Stone Mountain in Georgia

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Hundreds of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) group were opposed by civil rights protesters on Saturday in Stone Mountain Park in Georgia during their observance of Confederate Memorial Day.

Counter-protesters included members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Atlanta, Georgia, the Democratic Socialists of America and other local anti-fascists opposed to the rally.

According to videos uploaded to Twitter, counter-protesters gathered behind a fence and a police cordon to protest the event. Their cries could be heard by the event’s keynote speaker, Martin O’Toole.

However, the event ended without any violent incidents, according to Channel 2 News in Atlanta.

Stone Mountain Park in the town of the same name is a 3,000-acre attraction known for its rock relief carved with the figures of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The carving began in 1915 and was completed in 1972.

SCV, which bills itself as the “oldest hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers,” was denied a permit for a Confederate Memorial Day rally last year by the park association, which cited a “clear and present danger” as well as COVID-19.

The park association granted the permit this year despite objections from several civil rights activists, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and a local group, the Stone Mountain Action Coalition.

The Stone Mountain Action Coalition had asked the park to deny the permit, citing the 2017 Unite the Right riot in Charlottesville, Va., which erupted into violence when counter-protesters clashed with extreme white nationalist groups right.

“While the study and preservation of the Civil War is of great importance, a sanctuary of Confederate ideals with no historical connection to the Civil War is a clear and dangerous threat to our American democracy,” wrote the organization in a press release.

Lecia Brooks of the Southern Poverty Law Center criticized the planned rally last week.

“Allowing SCV to celebrate Confederate values ​​on public lands validates the rhetoric of SCV and its keynote speaker, which sends a dangerous message that Stone Mountain continues to be a safe space for white nationalists to congregate” , she said in a statement.

The park association argued that it could not refuse the permit for free speech and assembly rights. Still, they closed several Stone Mountain attractions to downplay the event, according to Channel 2 News.

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