*Everything that I am posting about here, will be reinforced by vines I recorded that I will post after I write this, in order of events, just so you all can get a better visual.*
Yesterday morning, I hopped on Twitter as usual and saw there was a “PRO-CONFEDERATE RALLY” being held at Stone Mountain Park (SMP). I’ve been to SMP several times before, to enjoy the view from the top and such, and never had a bad experience or encounter. Nothing to worry about, other than the huge confederate flag flying as you begin your walk up the mountain, but, ya know. (sarcasm) my first reaction to this rally was “Really? A park? Where kids are?”
Candice (of SM7) had RT a link to the Facebook group with rules for the rally. “No violence, No racial slurs…” So we thought, “let’s go observe for ourselves why this confederate flag means so much to them”. Tyler, Candice, and myself, arrived at SMP around 10:30ish. Again, here to observe. At this point, it was just three of us. Three unarmed black women.
Around 11:30 a.m, as we got closer to the protest, passing black people wishing us luck, even a black family reunion, a car approached us. The driver, a man, rolled down the window and told us “I wouldn’t go down there unarmed if I were y’all. It’s in the BACK of a parking lot and they have guns. An older lady we had met up with along the way replied with “WE HAVE JESUS. WE’RE GOOD”
We get to the rally, which is in this huge parking lot. [VINE1] Pick up trucks and flags everywhere. And kids. SO.MANY.CHILDREN.[VINE2] Even some dogs had on confederate flags around their neck. We walked cautiously towards where most of the people were and were greeted with smiles and handshakes. People began making small talk with us, asking us why we were there. We explained we were here to observe, which led to a few debates about why their flag is important to them, and we explained why we felt offended by its presence. It did get passionate a few times, but NOTHING serious. Casual debates and conversation. People were even offering us food (which we politely denied, because we were still getting a feel for the vibe. And really? We’re not stupid).
[Now, let me paint the scene at this point. We are standing by a huge green fence, that on the other side, was empty space. There was music playing, people taking pictures, men and women casually walking around with guns, police, and the Georgia 3% militia (who are volunteers, carrying huge weaponry, and lots of it). AGAIN. THIS WAS AN ALLEGED PEACEFUL PROTEST, YET GUNS WERE RAMPANT. People were sitting in or standing around their cars with flags, some even brought lawn chairs and tents. The vibe was that of a tailgate for a sporting event. That’s how they were treating this. OH and a helicopter circling continuously.]
See. About this Georgia 3% militia. From conversation we had with what seemed like their head honcho (Ironman), we gathered that most of them are veterans who attend events to try and keep the peace. They’re also self-funded and “do not tolerate racism”.[VINE6&7] Although priding themselves on being protectors of EVERYONE, they looked strapped and ready for a real war. But who exactly did they consider to be their enemy?
Suddenly, a man who claimed to be from the KKK, arrived yelling and shouting. About what, I wasn’t sure, but the flag supporters didn’t like it. They started shouting “KKK GO AWAY”, until he was finally out. This man was wearing FUBU sneakers. We pointed out the fact that he was wearing sneakers created by a black man, FOR BLACK PEOPLE (For Us, By Us) and he replied with “ so what if a black man made them? I am sure someone white helped”.[VINE3&4]
The rally continued as before once he left.[VINE5] Ironman, in later conversations, used that example of telling the man to leave as his main point in claiming they’re not racists. (1+1=oranges, but he was determined to stick to his point. so). Conversations continued. People even invited us to church with them. The vibe was as calm as a rally based on racism could be.[VINE8]
Maybe an hour later, we hear yelling from the other side of the green fence. A bearded man (and three others) in jeans, jordan’s, and a white shirt, appeared with (APPEARED WITH, NEVER BURNED) a ripped up confederate flag, yelling “FUCK YOUR HERITAGE. YOU’RE RACISTS”.[VINE9-11] THIS IS WHEN THE WHOLE VIBE CHANGED. The same men and women we had been conversing with all morning, were now calling this young man every name but his own. They switched up that quick. [VINE12] He flashed to Candice and I on the fence and said “YOU SELL-OUTS! UNCLE TOMS”, and Candice quickly replies “NO. WE’RE ON YOUR SIDE. LOOK AT HER SHIRT” (pointing to mine, which read BLACK LIVES MATTER”). We immediately knew that we had to join this young man because he was saying the exact same things we had been saying all day, just louder. In that moment, the three of us knew we had to stand with him.
Tommy, the man in the jeans, and three others came around the fence and we joined right in sync with them into the middle of the rally. The dead center of it all. Cops, about 6-7, surrounded us,[VINE13&14] while all kinds of slurs were flung at us from the crowd. When Tyler was called a “
greasy haired monkey nigger bitch”, we knew. Their true colors were shown, and it had been waiting to emerge all along.
AGAIN. Tyler, Candice, and I did not know the other 4 until this moment. We went from strangers to family within minutes.
The crowd dispersed and said they were heading to the top of SM. So. We all did. [VINE15] Now this is where the 7 of us will have different accounts because Elle, Tyler, Candice, and I got to the mountain after the other Lukas, Tommy, and Aurielle. We stopped to get water. That’s when I saw a confederate flag with Obama on it. (1+1=oranges here too). The other 3, we later found out, were having more racial slurs slung at them and other incidents occurred. They were yelling at Aurielle and Lukas, calling them terrorists and telling them to go back to their country.
Once Candice, Tyler, and I (Elle had stopped to take a break somewhere around the middle of the mountain) made our way up to the top, we found Lukas, Aurielle, and Tommy having more conversations with the confederate supporters. This is when a guy almost pulled his gun out on Tommy (that pic has been circulating around also). So, we join in and continued in more debates. There was one guy, supposedly one of the leaders of it all, standing with his shirt off on a rock, debating us. The supporters were also standing around us, with their flags, and again we were in the center of it all. The man on the rock did most of the talking. (He later told us he had a black girlfriend…suuuureeee). The arguments were still around the flag being offensive to us and them believing that it is historic and NOT racist. They even got deeper, when we started discussing privilege and racism.
Lukas and Tommy went to walk back down the mountain to get Elle, and when they came back, told us how a man hopped behind a tree and tried to attack them. They heard threats of wanting to kill us when we walk down the mountain and even wanting to tie us to the back of their pickups and drag us. We were fearful for our lives, so we stayed at the top of the mountain for about an hour, hoping things would settle down.
We approached some cops to ask for an escort down the mountain and one cop said, “May I say something? Why don’t you all just give it a breather? Give it a rest? Ignore them.” I was shocked, and I assume so were the rest of us because NONE OF US REPLIED. We all stood, and stared, because I’m sure everyone thought what I was thinking. “FUCK THAT PASSIVE SHIT!”
Our police escort (one man, ONE gun, protecting 7 of us, but okay) was friendly, but we were cautious. As we started walking down, we saw a group (which included the same shirtless leader standing on the rock earlier ) holding their guns and flags. As we walked passed, they got up and followed. [VINE16&17]
We kept repeating to the police escort “We don’t want to die today.” We stopped and let them pass by, thinking they would leave, but no. We walked further and saw them again, sitting on some rocks. We walked passed, and they stayed. We made it to the end of the mountain and made our way to Waffle House, where we were threatened, yet again, to have our brains blown out by a man and his son.[VINE18&19]
This was our day. This was in 2015.