COVINGTON, Ga. - A militia group is pushing back against a proposed mosque in Newton County.
Threats of violence forced commissioners to cancel a discussion on the plan Tuesday evening.
"We're not here to intimidate. You're just seeing two different rights being exercised at the same time," said Chris Hill, with the Georgia Security Force III% militia group.
Still, police were on alert in the square in Covington Tuesday where protesters, some of them armed, stood in opposition to a planned mosque and cemetery.
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Residents previously voiced their concerns in a county meeting, then Hill posted a video on social media.
He posted this video of them with weapons across the street from the disputed property. One of the members climbed a tree on the property to hang a flag," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of Georgia's Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“Some of the things I said were off the cuff and a little crass, a little rough around the edges. But I would like to backpedal and address serious concerns I have about the peacefulness of Islam,” Hill told Channel 2’s Carl Willis.
With the board of commissioners meeting canceled, the only action will be inaction, allowing a five-week moratorium to expire clearing the way for the mosque to be built along Highway 162.
"The bad news is a small group of anti-Muslim, neo-confederate extremists were able to frighten a county government into canceling a county meeting. That sends a dangerous message across the whole state," Mitchell said.
Counter-protesters from Newton County lined up across the street claiming the militia group is mostly composed of out-of-towners. They say they, not everyone, feels the same.
“I think that if I have the right here as a Christian to build a church and a cemetery then they should have the right as well," counter-protester Kendra Millerd told Willis.
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