A day after residents of a small Georgia town banded together to spread of message of love, a hate group burned crosses following an alt right rally.
The National Socialist Movement, a white supremacist group based in Detroit, Michigan, held a rally in Newnan, Georgia on Saturday afternoon. Residents of Newnan, Georgia protested the group’s visit to their small town of 33,000 by pledging to shut down shops the day of the rally and holding positive events downtown the day before. On Saturday, however, about three dozen neo-Nazis gathered to march at a park in downtown Newnan, 13WMAZ reports. Hundreds of counter-protesters turned up as well, some of them chanting "Newnan strong," according to WDBJ7. Hundreds of law enforcement officials were also in attendance, to prevent the kind of violence that happened at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, where one activist was killed after a white supremacist drove his car into the crowd.
According to WDBJ7, at least ten counter-protesters were arrested during the rally. Some of them were arrested for wearing masks or bandanas that concealed their faces, The Washington Post reports, after a number of police officers pointed their guns into the crowd of anti-racism protesters and demanded that they remove their masks.
Ironically enough, the law that allowed the officers to arrest the anti-fascist protesters for wearing masks — the Anti-Mask Act — was passed in 1951, in an effort to combat the Ku Klux Klan, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
According to The New York Times, Jeff Schoep, leader of the NSM, gave a speech at the rally explaining that he was “standing on behalf of white nationalism, white patriotism, and our history as American people.” Among the grievances aired were the group’s issues with illegal immigration and the removal of Confederate monuments.
When the hate group's permit expired at 5 p.m., the city turned off the power to their sound system, Fox 5 reports. According to Time, the group then moved their activities to a bar in Draketown, around 50 miles from Newnan, where they lit giant swastikas and other hate symbols on fire in a nearby field, and were even photographed giving Nazi salutes. The Paulding County Sheriff's Office and the Paulding County Fire Department both told 11Alive News that they did not respond to the incident because they did not receive any complaint calls regarding Saturday night’s activities.
(Photo: Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a swastika burning after a rally on April 21, 2018 in Draketown, Georgia. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)