Stone Mountain has drawn controversy since it was first envisioned in 1914 and was the location of the rebirth of the Klu Klux Klan on the top of the mountain later the same year. More recently, on July 4, an armed African American militia called the NFAC marched on the mountain and surrounding area, where the group challenged right-wing militias, including the Three Percenters (III%ers) militia.
In response to that march, a group of conservatives organized an event Saturday dubbed Heritage Not Hate, calling for support of the Stone Mountain monument in the wave of recent demonstrations against monuments honoring and memorializing the Confederacy. While initially claiming to have permits from Stone Mountain, the organizers never showed any evidence of such permits and the park was closed in anticipation of the protests.
Chaos over the closing of the park largely paralyzed the Heritage Not Hate protest that never officially reorganized or made a new meeting location.
Meanwhile, a group known as FLOWER United, who have previously called for the sandblasting of the monument honoring three Confederate leaders, organized a counter-protest on Main Street in downtown Stone Mountain.
In opposition, some of the militias that had promoted the protest, particularly Chris Hill’s Georgia Security Force III%, called for directly confronting the FLOWER United group, which included many antifa protestors, directly on the streets of Stone Mountain.
At 9 a.m., when both of the opposing groups were slated to start, they began to argue with each other, and soon the police, who had been holding a slight line between the two groups left, and violence ensued.
Over the following five hours, the groups exchanged a variety of non-lethal objects, throwing everything from rocks to smoke grenades, with militia members spraying protestors with bear mace and wasp spray. Counter-protesters grabbed Confederate flags from some of the militia men, and burned them, while some of the militia men grabbed protesters, getting into fist fights. Law enforcement returned around noon, and stayed on the sidelines, watching. Around 2 p.m., after the violence had largely subsided and the III% militia had begun to leave, police dispersed protesters using riot shields, and one officer used mace on some of the demonstrators.