Violent clashes across the US between far-right and counter protesters

'Go home, racists, go home,' left-leaning groups chanted at far-right group the Three Percenters in Georgia on Saturday

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Sunday 16 August 2020 21:27 BST
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Violent clashes erupted across the US this weekend between protesters from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Confrontations reached boiling point in both Kalamazoo, MIchigan, and Stone Mountain, Georgia, after far-right groups were met with counter protesters.

The Three Percenters, a far-right militia group, called for a 2,000-person rally on Saturday at Georgia's Stone Mountain Park "to defend and protect our history and Second Amendment rights".

The group was criticising calls to remove Confederate monuments and other memorabilia that have rippled across the nation in the wake of large protests over police brutality and systemic racism following the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

Stone Mountain Park is home to the largest Confederate monument in the US, honouring Robert E Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson. The area was also considered the symbolic location of where the Ku Klux Klan formed.

Ahead of the event, the city announced that it would be closing Stone Mountain Park amid fears the rally would lead to clashes between protest groups.

Video footage and reports from Saturday showed the Three Percenters clashing with counter-protest groups. These counter-protesters represented several civil rights organisations including NAACP, as well as left-leaning groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

"Go home, racists, go home," counter protesters chanted at the far-right group.

By early afternoon, it was reported that an estimated 500 people were gathered near the park, with counter-protesters outnumbering the Three Percenters. Both sides had members carrying rifles, the Associated Press reported.

The gathering remained rather peaceful for a few hours before it turned violent around 1pm. Members of the militia group reportedly sprayed insect repellent and other chemical sprays at the counter protesters. Several members of both groups were violently brought to the ground by others.

Police showed up in riot gear and were able to disperse the crowd. No one was arrested, according to reports.

In Kalamazoo, Michigan, a rally organised by the far-right group, Proud Boys, also turned violent. Clashes started once the Proud Boys – a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre for accusations relating to members being anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and anti-women – arrived in downtown Kalamazoo Saturday morning and were met with counter-protesters, some of whom represented Black Lives Matter and other left-leaning groups.

The Proud Boys were seen pepper-spraying counter protesters as violence broke out, MLive reported. Multiple protesters were seen brandishing guns while others used street signs as weapons. Trump and Nazi memorabilia was also pictured in the crowd of far-right protesters.

Kalamazoo police arrived on the scene after the protests turned violent.

"Once we as law enforcement noticed or observed that it was no longer peaceful, we then began to establish a police line and disburse the large crowd from fighting," KDPS Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley said.

Multiple people were arrested as protesters clashed, including MLive's reporter Samuel Robinson, a black journalist, who was covering the protests for his publication. He was later freed on $100 bond.

The unrest seen in the two cities has been witnessed across the nation, as Americans have taken to the streets to demonstrate against ongoing issues of police brutality and racism in the US.

In Portland, Oregon, protests continued for the 80th straight day on Saturday, and again turned violent between protesters and police. Alt-right protesters joined the crowds in Portland, in an apparent bid to distract from the original movement.

Multiple alt-right protesters were seen on Saturday brandishing paintball guns and using pepper spray against counter protesters.

"There were reports of a scuffle, pepper spray use, and a paintball gun," Portland Police Sergeant Kevin Allen confirmed to KOMO News. "No one reported being a victim of a crime."

Other demonstrators have also displayed violence against police officers while protesting police brutality. Almost daily there have been reports of protesters throwing rocks and other items when met with police. Participants have also repeatedly broken into the offices of the Portland Police Association, vandalized them, and set fires.

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