Counterprotesters Vastly Outnumber Nazis in Newnan
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Counterprotesters Vastly Outnumber Nazis in Newnan

About three dozen white supremacists rally, and 10 arrests are made on the other side.

Protesters show that they don't want Nazis in Newnan on Saturday, April 21. (Photo via Eternal-Life Hemshech's Facebook page)
Protesters show that they don't want Nazis in Newnan on Saturday, April 21. (Photo via Eternal-Life Hemshech's Facebook page)

About three dozen neo-Nazis rallied for an hour in Newnan on Saturday, April 21, drawing an overwhelming response from police, counterdemonstrators and multiple interfaith gatherings.

Newnan police reported 10 arrests, all among the hundreds of people The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said gathered to protest the small invasion of white supremacists in the Coweta County city.

The arrests were for blocking streets and wearing masks, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan told Fox 5.

Georgia has a law against being masked while demonstrating in public — originally an anti-Klan measure — and the Newnan Times-Herald said some of the anti-Nazi demonstrators blocked streets and resisted police efforts to keep them away from the neo-Nazis.

The Anti-Defamation League noted in background material sent out in advance of the rally that the masked counterdemonstrators known as Antifa can be a challenge to police and to others opposed to hate. The Times-Herald reported extensive jeering of police, and social media filled with unconfirmed accusations of excessive force among officers dressed in riot gear.

Related: Newnan Refuses to Be Silent Against Nazis

Photos: Interfaith Rally Against Hate

Keenan told the Times-Herald that more than 700 officers from 42 agencies kept the peace in Newnan on Saturday. The city of Newnan established and disseminated its crowd-control plans, including a warning that police were ready to make arrests.

Posted by Eternal Life-Hemshech on Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Detroit-based National Socialist Movement organized Saturday’s rally as part of what its leader, Jeff Schoep, called a national tour.

The neo-Nazis wore black as they marched to a downtown Newnan park around 4 p.m., an hour later than scheduled. Speakers addressed a crowd of mostly media members for about an hour — “Western civilization is white civilization” was a typical comment — then left as the city shut down the power to the stage.

Newnan businesses largely shut down Saturday to avoid trouble.

At least two interfaith events, each drawing hundreds of participants, were held Saturday to show that neo-Nazis did not represent Newnan. First was the outdoor Interfaith Rally Against Hate, whose organizers included Nadine Winter. The second event, the Live Up to Love service at St. Smyrna Baptist Church, began at 3 p.m., the scheduled start of the Nazi march, and included Congregation Bet Haverim Rabbi Joshua Lesser.

Rabbi Joshua Lesser, shown during the Women’s March in January 2017, provided a Jewish voice at an interfaith religious service in Newnan on April 21.

Given three minutes to speak from the Hebrew Bible, Rabbi Lesser referenced Isaiah and hineh mah tov from Psalm 130.

“Imagine if the psalmist was here today to see the beauty of this beloved community gathered — not just the tribes of one people, but of many peoples, of different faiths, races, genders, orientations, abilities and ideologies,” he said. “But the prophets would not miss the opportunity in a gathering like this to stir our moral imagination. They might ask, ‘Does it take such hateful groups to march to bring us together?’ Do we rest by saying we are better than the neo-Nazis marching, or do we commit to the work of unity every day?”

Rabbi Lesser posted his full remarks on Facebook.

Saturday was not necessarily the end of the demonstrations in Newnan. A World Without Police, the Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists and Atlanta Black Cross announced a protest of the 10 arrests outside the Coweta County Jail at 7 p.m. Sunday, decrying the “violent targeting of anti-racist protesters” by “militarized police.” And Schoep didn’t rule out a neo-Nazi return to Newnan.

For a detailed recap of Saturday’s events in Newnan, including a photo gallery, check out the Times-Herald’s coverage.

Way to go Newnan!

Posted by Eternal Life-Hemshech on Saturday, 21 April 2018

Eternal-Life Hemshech has posted on its Facebook page a photo gallery and videos from Saturday’s counterdemonstration.

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