(Reuters) – A predominantly black group of heavily armed protesters marched through Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta on Saturday, calling for the removal of the giant confederate sculpture on the site that civil rights activists consider a monument to racism.
FILE PHOTO: a man speaks into a megaphone while pointing to the Confederate monument carved in granite on Stone Mountain while protesting against the monument at Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA, June 16, 2020. REUTERS / Dustin Chambers
Video footage of the Independence Day rally posted on social media showed dozens of black-clad protesters – many in paramilitary-style outfits and all in scarves – parading differently at a sidewalk along the park sidewalk.
All the protesters carried rifles, including military-grade weapons, and some wore ammunition belts hanging behind them. Although African Americans seemed to explain most of the protesters, protesters of various races, men and women, were part of the group.
A video showed an unidentified leader of the protesters screaming into a loudspeaker in a challenge to the white supremacists who historically have used Stone Mountain as a meeting place on their own.
“I don’t see any white militias,” he said. “They were here. Where are you? We are at your house. Let’s go.”
John Bankhead, spokesman for the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, said the protesters are peaceful and orderly.
“It’s a public park, a state park. We occasionally have these protests on both sides of the matter. We respect people’s first amendment,” said Bankhead at the NBC affiliate station WXIA-TV.
“We understand the sensitivity of the problem here at the park … so we respect it and allow them to enter as long as it is peaceful, as it has been.”
Stone Mountain, which was reopened for the holiday weekend following a week-long shutdown on the coronavirus, faced new requests for removal from the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, on May 25 in the hands of the police. Minneapolis.
Floyd’s murder helped revive a long-overwhelming conflict between groups seeking to eliminate Confederate statues and sculptures, which they see as pro-slavery symbols, and those who believe they honor the traditions and history of the deep south.
Nine stories high and covering the length of a football field, the bas-relief stone sculpture carved on a granite wall overlooking the Georgia countryside about 40 km east of Atlanta remains the largest such monument to the Confederacy American Civil War.
Presents the appearance of Jefferson Davis, who was president of the Confederation of 11 states, and two of his legendary generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Steve Gorman’s report in Eureka, California; Editing by Clarence Fernandez