A large, heavily armed militia that was described by its leaders as “100 percent black” was seen marching through Stone Mountain State Park in Georgia on Saturday protesting a monument to Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The protest, which was described by local law enforcement as “peaceful” and “orderly,” was intended as a challenge to local white supremacists, who allegedly use the massive carving in the side of Stone Mountain as a meeting point for their rallies.
Video of the event was widely shared on social media and showed a large procession of protesters with guns drawn marching through the site.
According to Newsweek, Stone Mountain State Park officials described the group as “peaceful, orderly and escorted by police.” Park officials noted the history of the site in connection with white supremacist groups, and a spokesman said, “It’s a public park, a state park. We have these protests on both sides of the issue from time to time. We respect people’s First Amendment right. We understand the sensitivities of the issue here at the park … so we respect that and allow them to come in as long as it’s peaceful, which it has been.”
A number of the protest leaders, who said they are not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, but rather the “Not F***ing Around Coalition,” repeatedly challenged white supremacists to come out and confront them at the site of the monument, but there were none to be seen.
The group further insisted that they were not protesters but were rather a militia. According to Newsweek, a spokesman for the group asked, “Our initial goal was to have a formation of our militia in Stone Mountain to send a message that as long as you’re abolishing all these statues across the country, what about this one?”
The size of the group was estimated to be between 500 and 1,000 members.