NEWNAN, GA – Georgia cops give Antifa leftists the KKK treatment. And radicals are incensed by the move.
Police in Georgia were slammed by radical leftwing groups and several media outlets after arresting numerous anti-fascist demonstrators who refused to remove their masks at a neo-Nazi rally Saturday.
Authorities in Newnan justified the arrests as the application of a state law making it illegal to wear a mask at public events, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The law was adopted in the 1950s to combat Ku Klux Klan gatherings, and had been used as recently as 2016 during a white supremacist rally. Masks were also one of the items listed as being prohibited during Saturday’s rally, according to USA Today. But some critics said police were out of bounds, even though recent history has demonstrated people with masks at rallies tend to turn into suspects causing property damage and physical harm to others.
“We were peacefully protesting, yet they put guns in our faces and told us to take our masks off,” Jeremy Ortega, 19, told the Journal-Constitution.
Ortega was charged with a misdemeanor for breaking the no-mask law. He claimed he and his fellow protesters were only covering their faces to avoid threats from the neo-Nazi groups.
Instead, Ortega said, it was police who disrupted the peaceful protest—a narrative picked up by some news outlets.
“Militarized Cops At Tiny Georgia Neo-Nazi Rally Arrest Counterprotesters For Wearing Masks,” a Huffington Post headline blared. The Washington Post, meanwhile, sought to highlight the irony of the situation: “Georgia police invoke law made for KKK to arrest anti-racism protesters.”
But among the myriad counter-protesters, USA Today reported police also encountered members of ANTIFA, a group known for wearing masks during its demonstrations and one that’s instigated brawls and violent disruptions in the past.
A video posted by freelance journalist Daniel Shular appeared to show police officers pushing and yelling at non-compliant anti-fascist demonstrators to remove their masks before raising his rifle at them.
“Remove your mask, or you will be arrested,” the officer said.
Ultimately, police said about 10 counter-protesters were arrested.
Meanwhile, around two dozen members of the National Socialist Movement attended the rally, wearing black clothing and performing the Nazi salute. The organization gained a permit last month for the rally, The New York Times reported. It was unclear why the group chose Newnan to stage the gathering.
Although the Antifa crowd accused the police of disturbing a “peaceful protest,” there is evidence to the contrary. Who actually believes things would have remained peaceful with masked Antifa activists protesting neo-Nazi’s?
Question police tactics all you want, but it would have gotten violent.
City workers had blocked off several key streets with barriers and surrounded the park with barricades topped with chain-link fencing.
Newnan police chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows said the region has been planning for five to six weeks and he was “very relieved” to see the event didn’t include any violence and only about 10 arrests. No property damage was reported, he said.
“I’m so proud of the community,” Meadows said, adding that without the planning and support of local, regional and federal partners, the event could have spiraled out of control.
The police simply overwhelmed protesters with their presence.
There were nearly 700 law enforcement officers on hand at the rally, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Keenan said he was “relieved” the violence didn’t escalate.
“We maintained security. We would not let there be disorder. We didn’t have civil disorder, property damage. And we had just a few arrests,” he said. “We are absolutely satisfied.”
Police allowed protesters onto the sidewalks of the barricaded streets after frisking them at entry points.
Inside the designated area, police with batons and wearing shields and riot gear stood 5-feet apart, forming a barrier between the protesters, who were behind by barricades along the roadway, and the makeshift fence sealing off the park behind them.
The lead-up to the face-off rattled this town of some 33,000 people south of Atlanta.
“Praying for Newnan,” Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tweeted Saturday. “We must condemn the bigotry spread by hate groups. Our thoughts are with Sheriff Yeager, city officials, and all law enforcement officers who are working to protect residents and we hope the protests remains nonviolent.”
So the police tactics are condemned, yet they worked.
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) April 21, 2018
When two forms of fuel gather, there is no such thing as a “peaceful protest.” Had law enforcement failed to take this aggressive posture, they would have been criticized for allowing things to combust.
This is not defending the ill-conceived message of the neo-Nazi’s. But had they donned hoods, they would have been arrested along with Antifa protesters.
Law enforcement leaders should be congratulated and cops in the trenches applauded for maintaining order at this combustible event.