Credit: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Georgia Recorder
Stone Mountain prepares for Confederate Memorial Day demonstrations
Events planned for Confederate Memorial Day at Georgia’s Stone Mountain are again drawing criticism and the prospect of opposing demonstrators at the state-owned park on Saturday.
Several groups are calling on Gov. Brian Kemp to cancel the event.
Gerald Griggs, president of the Georgia NAACP, said that changes at the park, which is designated by state law as a Confederate memorial, aren’t happening quickly enough.
“They’ve been talking about reimagining Stone Mountain and the only thing they did is change the logo,” Griggs said. “They haven’t removed the Confederate flags from the base of the mountain. They have done nothing.”
The Sons of Confederate Veterans will lead the event on Saturday, which is scheduled to feature keynote speaker John Weaver.
Weaver is a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group.
Two years ago, Kemp appointed Athens pastor Abraham Mosley to be the first Black person to chair the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, the board that oversees the park.
Mosley said that the Confederate flags can’t be removed except by state law.
“There was a time in history when things went on, and I wish they hadn’t went on, but it’s history,” Mosley said. “And I think for people to come to honor their ancestors and what have you, I have no problem with it.”
In the recent past, events that drew opposing demonstrators to the park and the nearby city of Stone Mountain have gone smoothly, while others have ended in fist fights and park closures.
The Stone Mountain Action Coalition, one of the groups calling for the event’s cancellation, cited public safety concerns in a statement released this week.
The statement said that “While the study of the Civil War is legitimate, a Lost Cause shrine glamorizing the Confederacy that has no historical connection to the Civil War is a clear and dangerous threat to our American democracy.”
Confederate symbols have been a flashpoint in Georgia for decades.
Wednesday marks the 20th anniversary of the day when the Georgia legislature voted to redesign the state flag to exclude the Confederate battle emblem.