Protesters March Through Atlanta, Deface Statue
Hundreds marched through Atlanta Sunday night, in a second day of protests against deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Some protesters also defaced a monument with ties to the Confederacy.
They took to Peachtree Street and marched to Piedmont Park, holding signs expressing solidarity with Charlottesville and the people of Atlanta, denouncing President Donald Trump and ‘Nazi scum’ and apologizing for ‘white silence and inaction’ towards people of colors and other minorities.
The demonstration was organized by All Out Atlanta, a coalition of progressive groups that was formed in 2016 to stop a Ku Klux Klan “white power” march at Stone Mountain.
Earlier in the evening, a series of speakers addressed the crowd in downtown Atlanta's Woodruff Park.
One of them was Brian Thompson, who moved to Atlanta from Virginia a few months ago. He told the crowd that by coming together to denounce hatred and violence, they were making a difference.
“Each and every time you come across somebody who’s different than you, you treat them with respect and love and how you want to be treated, it’ll make the world to them,” he said. “I feel good knowing there are other people out here like this.”
Sporting buttons with an obscenity towards President Trump and support of Chinese Communist Party founder Mao Zedong, Drew Smith said he came to the rally because he says people who identify as white nationalists or white supremacists are no longer on the fringes of political debate.
“While Trump himself may not be a fascist, he is acting as a fascist enabler,” Smith said. “And it’s up to us, the people, to stand together and say ’No!’ to the new normal, and to build a new world that’s actually worth living in.”
Police presence was minimal as the group marched down Peachtree Street towards Piedmont Park, with an advance team on skateboards and bicycles blocking off intersections and telling drivers to turn around.
Just across from the Fox Theatre and again at Piedmont Park, someone set off small fireworks, but no arrests or interventions were made.
At the park, a small group of masked anti-facist protesters spray painted and broke part of the Peace Monument (also known as Gate City Guard), a statue showing a Confederate soldier laying down his weapon at the end of Reconstruction.
One man had minor injuries to his hand from the falling piece of statue.
As many of the protesters continued on down the Atlanta Beltline, tensions escalated at the statue.
Many of the masked anti-fascists, who were white, were yelling obscenities and threats at a lone black police officer present at the scene. Local activist Demia Tucker stepped between the screaming protestors and diffused the situation as more Atlanta Police Department officers arrived.
After almost everyone else dispersed, Tucker said it was important the march took place, because what happened in Charlottesville affects the country as a whole.
“It shows people all the way in Virginia that we’re here for them. We will fight for y’all, we will die for y’all, we will ride for y’all. We have your back. And in return they have ours.”
The Atlanta protest was among several around the nation over the weekend. Hundreds also gathered in Decatur for an event billed as a peace vigil.