Counterprotesters, business owners prepare to confront neo-Nazi rally this weekend

COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — Days before a neo-Nazi rally in downtown Newnan, a group of counterprotesters is vowing to be there and show strength in numbers.

Channel 2's Matt Johnson learned police plan to close several streets downtown for the rally.

It is expected that the square in downtown Newnan will be the most affected, although the rally is set to take place three blocks from away from the square.

Many businesses are closing out of fear and with counterprotesters carrying signs, there's concern the two sides will clash.


The Michigan-based neo-Nazi group known as the National Socialist Movement applied for and received a permit from the city of Newnan.

Newnan police say more than 400 law enforcement officers will be at Greenville Street Park.

Authorities are urging residents to stay away from the area between 3 and 5 p.m.

"We can't let history repeat itself by being asked to ignore it," said Jesse Yates, a business owner who plans to keep his store open that day. "I wish none of it was happening, to be honest with you," he said. 

Yates said he just wants the scheduled rally, which is being held three blocks from his record store, to be over with.

"You get a group like that coming into your town, I would hope everybody would be angry," he said.

A group called No Nazi Newnan announced plans to hold counter protests during the planned rally.

Its members are made up of local and out-of-town activists that includes Atlanta Antifacists.

"I cannot allow myself to stand idly by," said counterprotester Samantha Binion. "I'm hoping as many people as possible feel empowered to come and join us."

Newnan police said that more than 400 law enforcement officers from more than 20 agencies will be at the rally.

Yates said he trusts police to keep him and the community safe.

"The planning seems like it's right on track with what I hope would happen anywhere," he said,