Georgia is shutting down Stone Mountain Park Saturday to block an anti-government militia rally planned for the site, which is home to a famous Confederate memorial.
Officials made the decision to avoid a confrontation between the Three Percenters — a right-wing militia — and a large crowd of counter-protesters. The Stone Mountain Memorial Association, the state agency that runs the park, issued a statement Friday evening citing “security concerns” that “are being addressed by state and local law enforcement.”
Last month, members of the Three Percenters were denied a permit to hold a rally “to defend and protect our history and Second Amendment rights” at the park northeast of Atlanta.
Right-wing protesters have frequently demonstrated at the mountain, the face of which bears an etching of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, all on horseback with hats over their hearts.
Saturday’s rally was planned in response to a July 4 march on the park by a Black militia.
“The city of Stone Mountain is anticipating and preparing for at least two opposing groups of protesters whose intentions are to demonstrate at Stone Mountain Park on Saturday. Stone Mountain Park has made the decision to close the park on this day,” said a city statement posted on Facebook.
“While the city has little information of what to expect ... out of the abundance of caution we are asking the General Public to avoid the City ... specifically the downtown area.” It added: “Please know the City’s local law enforcement agency is managing the situation and has devised a plan for the protection of life and property.”
In 2016, an event called Rock Stone Mountain drew a handful of white supremacists, who were confined to a small area, and counter protesters, who clashed with police, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.
The park will reopen on Sunday.