How One Small Town In Georgia Is Protesting A Neo-Nazi Rally

Newnan, Georgia residents are making it clear that racists are not welcome in their town.

There’s more than one way to protest neo-Nazis.

The National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group based in Detroit, Michigan, will be descending upon Newnan, Georgia this weekend. Ahead of their arrival, some in the small city of 33,000 are making their disapproval known, according to a report from CNN. After police, in an effort to avoid violence, suggested that downtown store owners put away things that could be thrown (like chairs or tables) ahead of Saturday’s rally, a number of business owners decided to not open their stores at all that day.

“Saturday is our busiest day of the week, but we want people to know that Newnan doesn't stand for this,” Rachel Kuehl, owner of farmhouse decor shop Newnan Mercantile, told CNN. “We’re not a city that promotes hate.”

Residents are banding together to make Friday a busy shopping day downtown. Stores will be staying open later than usual, and local groups are planning events and even musical performances, CNN reports. Groups will give away #NewnanStrong t-shirts for residents to wear over the weekend, in order to present a united front against hate. One group, the non-profit org Backstreet Community Arts, is planning to fight hate with love by inviting children to create chalk drawings of hearts, rainbows, and flowers in the city park the day before the rally.

“There are many ways that Newnan is declaring unity and love before and during the rally...and now some downtown groups have thought up a beautiful way for children to safely voice themselves as well,” the group said of the event on Facebook, adding, “It will be hard for the hate group to take serious video footage when a rainbow colored unicorn is in the shot.”

The National Socialist Movement’s permit indicates that they’re anticipating between 50 and 100 people to attend the rally, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, though those numbers could easily grow depending on the number of counter-protesters who attend.

Police seem eager to avoid a repeat of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year that ended in the death of activist Heather Heyer. More than 400 law enforcement personnel from local, state, and federal agencies will be on hand for the event, 11 Alive reports. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a counter-protest is being organized by a coalition of groups that include Atlanta Antifascists, the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Workers’ Solidarity Alliance.

(Photo: Neo-Nazi protestors organized by the National Socialist Movement demonstrate near where the grand opening ceremonies were held for the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center April 19, 2009 in Skokie, Illinois. By Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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