Armed Black protesters march through Confederate memorial park in Georgia
A group of predominantly Black armed protesters marched through a Georgia memorial park on the Fourth of July calling for the removal of a carving of Confederate officials.
The group, named the Not F—ing Around Coalition (NFAC), marched through Stone Mountain Park on Saturday, with many protesters holding rifles, including military-style weapons, and some wearing ammunition belts, Reuters reported.
The protesters called for the removal of the nine-story-high monument depicting Confederacy President Jefferson Davis and two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The location of the monument also served as the site of the Ku Klux Klan’s rebirth in 1915.
Videos posted online showed scores of protesters dressed in black and wearing face scarves during the protest. One clip showed a leader challenging white supremacists while shouting into a loudspeaker.
“I don’t see no white militia,” he said. “We’re here. Where … you at? We’re in your house. Let’s go.”
John Bankhead, the spokesman for the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, said the about 100 to 200 protesters were peaceful, The Associated Press reported.
“It’s a public park, a state park. We have these protests on both sides of the issue from time to time. We respect people’s First Amendment right,” Bankhead told NBC affiliate station WXIA-TV.
“We understand the sensitivities of the issue here at the park … so we respect that and allow them to come in as long as it’s peaceful, which it has been,” he added.
The protests come as calls to remove Confederate monuments were reignited after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in May.
The park had reopened for the holiday weekend after being shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. It usually hosts a laser and fireworks show in front of the carving, but this year, the show was canceled because of the virus.