A small Georgia city was crawling with hundreds of law enforcement officials as a neo-Nazi hate group came to host their annual convention.
Stores in Newnan, Georgia closed and residents were vocal about their displeasure of the National Socialist Movement’s (NSM) presence.
“I am from Newnan. I do not want people to think this is who we are. We don’t need these people in our town,” says one protestor.
Law enforcement from Columbus, LaGrange, Manchester, Troup County, Harris County, and several other Georgia cities and counties offered support as Newnan braced for the possibility of violence.
Ten counter protestors were arrested, however, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office says the rally and protests stayed mostly peaceful as no protestors or law enforcement were injured.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, NSM is a hate group and known for celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday.
As NSM stood in Greenville Street Park, counter protestors from other organizations, as well as Newnan residents opposed the rally.
“We put together a very nonviolent, peaceful, lawful protest. We just want to show the world that Newnan is not about hate. We are a strong people and we will not allow these people to phase us in any way,” says Newan resident, Clifton Fisher, President of the Coweta County African American Alliance.
The group chanted “Newnan Strong”.
“Newnan Strong- as far as in the city, this should be a place of peace, a place of love. Every city in the state of Georgia should be about peace, and that’s what we come here today for,” says Jimael Burnette.
Another resident says she was upset the NSM was allowed to come into her town.
“I’m not protesting them, they are who they are. I’m protesting the mayor and all of the people that allowed them to come into our lovely city of Newnan, Georgia,” says the protestor, “Those people- they hate, but the other ones, that we pay to represent us and the community, what did they do to represent us today? They allowed this to happen, and it should not have.”
According to one protestor, the law enforcement presence, which included bringing in SWAT teams and officers from across the state in riot gear, and snipers was an expensive cost to the city. News Three is continuing to look for the official number.
The NSM rally lasted until 5:00 PM est until law enforcement cut off the microphones and announced for the group to leave the park, but Marshala Cofer says cutting the microphone at the end of the rally doesn’t silence the neo-Nazi message.
“I believe there are people from all over who believe in this, and I think that this day is no different than any ordinary day, meaning these people believed this before this day and people will continue to believe this after this day and this is just a rally of all of them coming together. I believe that neo-Nazism and hate in general is a problem that our country is facing at the moment,” says Cofer.
An event called “Peace in the Park” is scheduled for Sunday from 5:30 PM-8:30 PM est for residents to recoup after the rally.