As the world’s eyes will turn to Atlanta starting on Sunday as Super Bowl week begins, it appears that the ugly head of racism is looking to make a statement as well.
A group of white supremacists in Stone Mountain, Ga. are planning to hold a “pro-white” rally on Feb. 2, the day before Super Bowl LIII despite being denied an official permit, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“To hell with their permit,” said Michael Weaver, one of the rally’s organizers, said. “The Constitution is our permit. We move forward. We aren’t going to be discriminated against because you don’t like our views.”
The organizers behind the racist rally attempted to stage a similar rally in 2016 that drew about two dozen white supremacists. The problem is that it also drew hundreds of counter-protesters who spent hours battling police until the park was shut down.
The Stone Mountain Memorial Associations denied the white supremacists the permit because they are trying to stop a repeat of that incident. Weaver, who is reportedly a convicted felon named Michael Carothers, said he and his fellow organizers, who include Ku Klux Klan members and other extremist groups, believe the denial violates their First Amendment rights, but he said they have been unable to find an attorney to take their case.
“We want to coordinate with law enforcement for this event to be peaceful,” he said. “We want to do this peacefully, legally and civilly.”
Weaver doesn’t exactly have a history of being peaceful and civil. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after he pepper sprayed a Black man in Columbus, Ga.
As part of his sentence, Weaver was banished from the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. To counter the protest, a coalition of activist groups called the Frontline Organization Working to End Racism, or FLOWER, has planned a counter-protest.
Sean Wolters, an activist with All Out Atlanta, said the group expects “at least 300” counter protesters at Stone Mountain to oppose the white supremacist group. Like their white supremacist opponent, FLOWER has not applied for a permit and is employing a similar tactic to show up.
“The First Amendment is enough of a permit to have a gathering,” Wolters said..