By Tal Axelrod
August 14, 2020 – 11:03 PM EDT
Getty Images By Tal Axelrod
Stone Mountain Park in Georgia will close Saturday ahead of a rally planned in defense of one of the nation’s largest Confederate monuments.
The City of Stone Mountain said in a statement Friday that it was closing the park in anticipation of at least two groups of counter-protesters converging at the site.
“Please know the City’s local law enforcement agency is managing the situation and has devised a plan for the protection of life and property,” the city said. “Resources are in place to respond to any disruption in peace during the event. Every effort is being made to ensure that any demonstrations conducted within the City’s limits are performed peacefully without incident.”
Far-right protesters have announced plans to rally in front of the monument, a group that reportedly includes white supremacists and anti-government militia members.
Stone Mountain Park has been the focus of a flood of criticism in recent years over its massive depiction of Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Jefferson Davis, some of the Confederacy’s chief figures, on horseback with hats over their hearts.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed the monument “the Mount Rushmore of the Confederacy, only bigger.”
Scrutiny over the park has been renewed amid the national conversation over systemic racism following the May police killing of George Floyd, with demonstrators across the country calling for the removal of monuments of Confederate figures and others with racist histories.