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As Neo-Nazis Burned Swastikas In Georgia Saturday, Police Arrested Counter-Protesters For Wearing Masks

NEWS

As Neo-Nazis Burned Swastikas In Georgia Saturday, Police Arrested Counter-Protesters For Wearing Masks




A heavily militarized police force of some 400 officers stood watch outside a small neo-Nazi rally Newnan, Georgia on Saturday, arresting about 10 counterprotesters, many for the criminal act of wearing a bandana on their face.

Armed law enforcement officers in full riot gear confronted a group of about 50 anti-fascist protesters and demanded they remove their masks or face arrest.

Those who refused to comply with their order were thrown to the ground and handcuffed.

The Huffington Post reports:

At one point, an officer pointed what seemed to be a modified AR-15 at the faces of counterprotesters, none of whom appeared to be armed.

The lead officer in the arrests said the counterprotesters were breaking a state law regarding masks, likely referring to a seldom-enforced 1951 law originally aimed at combating hooded Ku Klux Klan members. Anti-fascist protesters ― many belonging to chapters of Antifa groups, known for sometimes violently confronting white supremacists ― often wear masks to avoid being identified by both law enforcement and neo-Nazis.

Huffington Posts’s Christopher Mathias was shocked by the brutality of the police officers.

“I just witness the most over-aggressive policing I’ve ever seen in #Newnan,” he wrote on twitter. “Tackling protesters and arresting them… for wearing masks.”

Mathias also noted that while items like balloons were not allowed at the rally, Georgia’s open-carry gun law permitted Neo-nazi members to bring their weapons.

“The irony of enforcing masking laws to prosecute leftists is just incredible,” said Molly, a counterprotester from Charlottesville, Virginia, who traveled to Georgia to protest neo-Nazis. “Those are anti-Klan statutes.”

“And to be roughing up anti-Nazi protesters while handling literal Nazis with kid gloves… it’s absurd,” added Molly, who said she saw one of her friends get arrested Saturday.

The Newnan rally was organized by the National Socialist Movement, an older neo-Nazi group that favors explicit Third Reich iconography over the more coded racist memes of the so-called alt-right. Fewer than 30 NSM members, along with a small contingent of the white supremacist group League of the South, showed up for the event.



Jeff Schoep, the so-called commander of the NSM, rambled about the need to keep Confederate statues. He referred to himself and his companions as “Alpha males” and complained about men who look like “homosexuals” by wearing skinny jeans. He also lashed out against the “Zionist media” for portraying NSM as a hate group.

NSM members flanking him threw up Nazi salutes.

Schoep then left the stage to address a gaggle of reporters. When asked by HuffPost about NSM members throwing up Nazi salutes, Schoep claimed they were actually “Roman salutes.” He then threatened to have HuffPost removed from the park for being “disrespectful.”




Shortly before the event, Newnan Police Chief D.L. “Buster” Meadows appeared to draw an equivalency between the neo-Nazis and the anti-fascists showing up to protest them.

“Neither one of these groups represent who we are and what we stand for,” he told local news outlet The Newnan Times-Herald.

Hours after a planned white supremacist rally in Newnan, the neo-Nazi group that organized the event gathered together under the cover of dark night in a town about 50 miles away.

Members of the Nationalist Socialist Movement held a swastika burning near Temple, Georgia west of Atlanta, holding torches and burning the group’s symbols in a field.




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