DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Activities will resume Sunday at Stone Mountain State Park one day after hundreds of protesters clashed with police.
The park released the following statement on Saturday:
Stone Mountain Park is located on state-owned land. The state agency with authority over Stone Mountain Park has issued permits to three groups to assemble for free speech activity on April 23. The state agency established the permit locations at the Yellow Daisy Parking Lot, Confederate Hall Plaza and Lower Lawn. The permit times are from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The groups are exercising their First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. The opinions and views of the groups permitted to assemble are neither endorsed nor condoned by Stone Mountain Park. The attractions are closed for the remainder of the day. The Lasershow is canceled this evening. The park will resume normal operations on Sunday, April 24th.
Nine counter-protesters were arrested Saturday for refusing to take their masks off, authorities said.
"Anytime there is a white supremacist that attempts to promote their horrible views there needs to be people out in opposition," protester Charlie Abrams said.
At least one was seen spraying a Georgia State Patrol officer with pepper spray.
Others engaged in physical skirmishes with law enforcement dressed in riot gear, said John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Stone Mountain Park Police.
"We're not anti-cop, we're not anti-white people or whatever the case may be. We're anti-racist white people," protester Mac McCoy said.
One group of protesters openly calls themselves "pro-white,” while others are organizing against them.
The main one, called "Rock Stone Mountain," started in the Yellow Daisy Lot parking area.
Park officials temporarily closed roads leading to and from the Yellow Daisy Lot near the park police station with the intention of keeping the rally, dubbed Rock Stone Mountain, far away from regular guests and from clashes with counter protesters.
One heated exchange happened when a couple on their way to the "White Power" rally walked through the crowd of counter protesters.
In their rally permit, organizers said they expected as many as 2,000 white extremist protesters but Saturday morning they were lowering the bar.
John Michael Estes, one of the organizers, said the enormous numbers of police and the park’s decision not to let them climb the mountain “cut down our numbers quite a bit.”
The pro-white group said they would have had more of a turnout if it wasn't for the protesters.
Channel 2's Audrey Washington was allowed at the heavily guarded gate to the "White Power" protest.
One participant said he's fighting to preserve the Confederate flag and the controversial carving at Stone Mountain.
"They want to erase our history, because they want to erase us," White Power rally participant John Estes said.
Counter-protesters first faced off with police on a park road, where Washington reports chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the KKK has got to go.”
After counter-protesters were turned away by police, the protesters took to wooded trails attempting to reach the white power groups.
Organized and supported by various members of the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nation sects and other openly white supremacists, Rock Stone Mountain's mission statement called for a peaceful protest, but a group called "All Out Atlanta" has formed to stop them.
The group, describing themselves as anti-racists, vow to stop the march and say they will shut down the Klan, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacist efforts at the park.
Also, there were representatives of another group similar to those that gathered here last summer, who want to preserve Confederate symbols and the battle flag at the park.
Members of that group, however, say they want to distance themselves from the white power protesters.
Park police have the support of the Georgia State Patrol, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, DeKalb County Police and two helicopters in an effort to keep the rally and counter protests tame.
Cox Media Group