Neo-Nazis hold swastika burning at Georgia rally
A neo-Nazi rally near Atlanta on Saturday resulted in about 10 arrests, as some 700 law enforcement officers were on duty in a bid to maintain order, reports said.
Local officials were determined to avoid the level of violence seen at similar events held elsewhere, Atlanta’s Fox 5 reported.
The demonstration in Newnan, Ga., 38 miles southwest of the state capital, appeared to be the largest face-off between neo-Nazis and anti-fascist demonstrators, since clashes in Charlottesville, Va., last year that killed one person, USA Today reported.
Some anti-fascist counter-protesters were reportedly arrested for wearing masks, which were listed among prohibited items.
A row of officers wearing riot gear formed a human shield to prevent groups from clashing, the report said.
Members of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gained a permit last month for the Saturday rally, the New York Times reported. About two-dozen of its members attended, wearing black clothing and performing the Nazi salute.
Speakers talked about white power, as “Newnan strong” was written below a brick stage covered by a large, chalk-drawn rainbow, the report said.
At least 100 people stood in opposition to the gathering, the Times reported. Some included members of Antifa, the anti-fascist movement, who held signs such as “Take your HATE elsewhere.”
Other signs said “Love thy neighbor,” while a helicopter pulled a banner that said, “Newnan believes in love for all.”
Newnan police Chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows said he was “very relieved” to see the event didn’t include any violence. No injuries or property damage were reported, he said.
The lead-up to the event rattled Newnan, a town of about 33,000 people, USA Today reported.
“Praying for Newnan,” Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tweeted Saturday. “We must condemn the bigotry spread by hate groups. Our thoughts are with Sheriff Yeager, city officials, and all law enforcement officers who are working to protect residents and we hope the protests remains nonviolent.”
Burt Colucci, a member of the National Socialist Movement, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the group’s leaders “pick these rallies randomly.”
“It’s always preferable that it is a white town,” he said.
By 6 p.m., downtown Newnan seemed calm, a Fox 5 Atlanta photographer tweeted.