Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park, known for its giant rock carvings of Confederate leaders, closed to the public Saturday over concerns about a planned white nationalist rally and counterprotest.
The city of Stone Mountain, about 25 miles northeast of Atlanta, announced the closure in a tweet on Friday.
“The City of Stone Mountain is anticipating and preparing for at least two opposing groups of protesters whose intentions are to demonstrate at Stone Mountain Park on Saturday, August 15, 2020. Stone Mountain Park has made the decision to close the Park on this day,” the city said.
Opposing groups meanwhile faced off in the city’s downtown on Saturday morning, according to NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta. A video showed people chanting “Go home, racists, go home.”
City officials said that out of an abundance of caution it was warning residents and visitors to avoid the area and said buses in the city will be suspended.
“Every effort is being made to ensure that any demonstrations conducted within the City’s limits are performed peacefully and without incident,” the tweet read.
A far-right group, Three Percenters, applied last month to hold a rally with more than 2,000 people at the park on Saturday, according to Reuters. The militia said it wanted “to defend and protect our history” and Second Amendment rights.
Officials denied the application because of violence that erupted at a similar event in 2016, Reuters reported.
Despite this, several groups, including one called Defending Stone Mountain, said online that they would hold a rally at the park anyway and asked participants to bring U.S. and Confederate flags. An opposing group, Atlanta Antifascists, said it would hold a counterprotest.
“It has been clear for weeks that Stone Mountain tomorrow will be a focal point for white power organizing. Follow @flowerunited for tomorrow’s anti-racist counter-mobilization,” the group tweeted. “ALL OUT against racists and the far-Right! Spread the word!”
Stone Mountain Park is home to the largest monument to America’s Civil War Confederacy, according to Reuters.