Counter Protesters at Neo-Nazi Rally Arrested For Wearing Masks

Roughly 10 anti-fascist counter protesters for a Neo-Nazi rally in Newnan, Georgia were arrested by police for the crime of wearing masks, citing a rarely enforced Georgia law designed to stop Ku Klux Klan activities in the state. Many of the protesters were from various chapters of groups under the banner of the “Anitfa Movement” (a movement looking to crush fascistic rhetoric and activities, sometimes violently so). The police, who wore bulletproof vests and helmets while carrying semiautomatic rifles, that were committing the arrest were assigned to the rally to prevent violent altercations between counter protesters and the white supremacists holding the rally. One officer pointed his weapon at the counter protesters, none of whom seemed to have been armed.

The Greenville State Park rally was organized by the National Socialist Movement, a blatantly Nazi organization that openly embraces Third Reich iconography. The NSM had filed a permit to hold the rally in which less than 30 members of the group attending and were joined by the white supremacist group, the League of the South compared to 100 counter-protesters. The leader of the group, Jeff Schoep, spoke at the rally about Confederate statues, “homosexual”-looking men in skinny jeans and the “Zionist Media” labeling them as a hate group while flanking members threw Nazi salutes in response. When asked later, Schoep insisted they were “Roman salutes.”

One of the counter protesters noted the irony of arresting anti-fascist protesters using anti-Klan laws. Both local law enforcement and some of the Newnan residents seemed to equate the counter protesters with the white supremacists they were clashing with. One local stayed with a friend’s gun shop, believing the protesters might vandalize it. Other locals interviewed seemed more sympathetic to the counter protesters’ cause. The rally ended abruptly when police pulled the plug on the sound system and informed the neo-Nazis to disperse or face arrest. The neo-Nazis complied without incident. The rally ultimately lasted less than an hour.