A neonazi rally outside of Atlanta on Saturday drew only a few participants and did not last long.
But the event overthrew Newnan, Ga., A city of about 38,000, shut down for one afternoon as downtown businesses and gathered protesters. Hasco Craver, deputy city director, said more than 700 law enforcement officials from 42 agencies were present.
Members of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, received a permit last month for a rally from 3pm to 5pm in a park. The organizers estimated that the rally could attract 50 to 1
Their plans recalled a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, which spiraled out of control and confronted protesters and counter-protesters in the streets. A man from Ohio, who was described by the police as a sympathizer of the Nazis, drove his car through a pedestrian group, killing a woman and injuring at least 19 others.
But when the clientele gathered at Greenville Street Park, Newnan, just after 4 pm, it looked like only about two dozen white nationalists were on a platform there.
In a speech, Jeff Schoep, who leads the National Socialist movement and was also at the rally in Charlottesville criticized illegal immigration, skinny jeans and the removal of Confederate monuments, adding that he was "for white nationalism, white patriotism and our history as an American people. "
Before the rally participants was a group of reporters in a largely empty grassland. There were also barricades and dozens of black-robed, helm-wearing law enforcement officers lining the road that lined the park.
And in addition, at least 100 people stood against the assembly, including some activists of the anti-fascist group known as Antifa.
The counter-protagonists demonstrated for hours in front of the white nationalist rally in the city center. They marched through the streets, waving signs saying "Casting White Supremacy" and "Love Your Neighbor" as a helicopter draws a banner reading "Newnan believes in love for all."
Burt Colucci, a member of the National Socialist Movement told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there was no particular reason Newnan was chosen for the rally.
"We choose these rallies at random," he said. "It's always preferable that it's in a white city."
There have been some confrontations between counter-protesters and the police. City officials said about 10 arrests were made, but it was unclear who was loaded or for what. At 6 pm downtown Newnan seemed calm .