Police stepped in to stop protests escalating as hundreds of people gathered at Stone Mountain in Georgia this weekend to celebrate the Confederate flag, as calls continue across the country for the flag to be banned.
A police officer was forced to step in, as one pro-Confederate attendee reached for his weapon as tensions escalated. Extra officers had been drafted in for the day.
The rally comes in the wake of the June Charleston shooting, where 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof is accused of shooting dead nine black Americans at a South Carolina church. Roof was pictured posing with the Confederate flag before the mass shooting.
Pro-Confederate supporters were also in attendance to argue against any restrictions on gun control.
A place of historical significance to pro-Confederate flag supporters, Stone Mountain is home to the Confederate Memorial Carving, which depicts three Confederate leaders of the American Civil War.
Stone Mountain is also infamous as the site where the second Klu Klux Klan (KKK) was formed in 1915, after a forty-year dormancy in Gerogia. The white supremacist organisation members burnt a cross on the site some 100 years ago, with the second Klan going on to attract about 5 million supporters by the early 1920's.
Campaigners across the United States have been calling for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from government property, including state capitols and Confederate-branded license plates.
Speaking at the memorial for a pastor killed in the Charleston shooting, President Obama said: "we all have to acknowledge the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation."
Campaigners, who argue the flag is a symbol of racism, turned out to counter the pro-Confederate rally, just days after confirmation that Confederate battle flags were placed on the grounds of Martin Luther King's church. Police have reported that the incident occurred on Thursday, when two men placed several of the flags at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
According to local news reports, one park visitor, not part of the protests, said the flag is "like the swastika... It's not good – it should come down."
A pro-Confederate flag supporter shouted at a counter-protester who dressed as a slave to the event.
Among African-Americans, 72% see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism, compared to just 25% of white U.S. citizens. In the South, 75% of black people see it as a symbol of racism.
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