Opposing demonstrations clash in Georgia over removal of Confederate monuments

Groups of protesters and counter-protesters clashed in Stone Mountain, Ga., on Saturday. 

The city announced Friday that that it would close Stone Mountain Park ahead of a rally planned by groups of far-right protesters. The group the Three Percenters requested to hold a 2,000-person event “to defend and protect our history and Second Amendment rights,” CBS News reported.

The far-right group on Saturday criticized the removal of Confederate monuments across the country spurred by protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. 

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The largest Confederate monument in the U.S. is housed in Stone Mountain Park. It honors Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis. It is also considered a symbolic birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Several videos shared across social media Saturday show groups of counter-protesters and protesters from the far-right group in the city of Stone Mountain.

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Groups of counter-protesters included representations from widespread civil rights organizations like the NAACP, as well as left-learning groups that expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

There were approximately 500 demonstrators by the middle of the day, the outlet noted.

People in both groups carried rifles, according to The Associated Press. There was little police for several hours on Saturday as the protesters held demonstrations and had peaceful arguments.

However, fights broke out at approximately 1 p.m., with police in riot gear breaking up crowds that were allegedly punching and kicking each other, in addition to throwing rocks.

Militia members sprayed some counter-protesters with insect repellent or pepper spray, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Several demonstrators from both groups were also knocked to the ground.

The crowds were cleared out of the area by 2 p.m. There were no arrests.