In Georgia, Protests Planned At Salute To U.S. South’s Proslavery Past.. Hundreds of civil rights activists are expected to show up at Georgia’s Stone Mountain on Saturday to protest at the return of an annual celebration of the Confederacy at the foot of a towering monument to the heroes of the South’s proslavery past.
The state chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) expects about 200 supporters to turn out for its celebration, which it says honours the sacrifices of their forebears. The Atlanta NAACP aims to bring even more protesters to the event, which it views as a salute to the South’s legacy of racism.
The event, which is returning after a two-year hiatus, takes place at the foot of a 90-foot-tall, bas-relief sculpture depicting three Confederate leaders on horseback that is notched in Stone Mountain’s granite face.
The Stone Mountain Memorial Association, which runs part of the sprawling park about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta, cancelled the gathering in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the potential for violence at the event.
Stone Mountain has long held symbolism for white supremacists. The Ku Klux Klan, a hate group formed by Confederate Army veterans with a history of lynchings and terror against Black people, held its rebirth ceremony atop the mountain in 1915 with flaming crosses.
In recent years, tensions between the two sides “began to create a clear and present danger”, the association said in a statement. Even so, it would allow the event to go forward this year and welcomes peaceful gatherings “from all quarters.”
Martin O’Toole, a Sons of the Confederate Veterans spokesperson, said anyone breaking the peace will be asked to leave. “I’m not concerned about violence, at least not on our side,” he said. “This is about history and honour, period.”
O’Toole, the keynote speaker of the event, is also a leader in the Charles Martel Society, a self-avowed white nationalist group based in Atlanta.
O’Toole insists the gathering is not about race, but instead honours those who fought in the 1861-65 American Civil War on the Confederate side, which sought to secede from the Union to determine its own destiny, he said.
“The South remembers its dead,” O’Toole said. “They were the patriots of their day.”
Richard Rose, the NAACP’s Atlanta chapter president, said he personally wanted to see the images of General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson removed from the mountain.
He said it was clear to him that the memorial service is a glorification of the pro-slavery cause.
“We have to be there and stand against this,” Rose said. “Silence gives consent and they glorify a past of chattel slavery and its horrendous violence against humanity.”