Update 7/19/2020: The III% Security Force, an Islamophobic far-Right militia headed by Chris Hill, yesterday reversed its earlier position and stated it will rally at Stone Mountain on August 15th.
On August 15, 2020, far-Right demonstrators will rally at Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta. The August 15 rally, held at the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan, is being promoted and partially organized by figures tied to neo-Nazism and the white supremacist movement. Although some organizers claim to represent “Heritage Not Hate”, a closer look at who is mobilizing shows that August 15 will bring an influx of racists to the surrounding community.
Background: Protest at Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain is a racist landmark. The second and most influential iteration of the Ku Klux Klan was born at a gathering on the mountain in 1915. A figure with close links to the Klan, Gutzon Borglum, started the giant carvings of Confederate generals on the mountain face in 1923. Borglum abandoned the project in 1925, after having only carved Robert E. Lee’s head, and went on to carve Mount Rushmore. In a show of defiance toward the Civil Rights movement, the State of Georgia purchased the site in 1958. Work on the carvings recommenced in 1964.
In 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine Black people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In the aftermath of the massacre, outcry grew against Confederate monuments and symbols. Pro-Confederate rallies at Stone Mountain and elsewhere were held in reaction. As 2015 drew to a close, numbers at the pro-Confederate rallies dwindled and “Heritage Not Hate” claims grew less convincing, with obvious white supremacists becoming evident in the thinning crowds.
A November 2015 rally at Stone Mountain Park was partially organized by a Klan couple and featured participants giving KKK salutes. This November 2015 rally was the immediate precursor to “Rock Stone Mountain”, an explicitly white power demonstration in April 2016 which was undermined by anti-racist protest. White nationalists scheduled a sequel “Rock Stone Mountain II” for early 2019 but were denied a permit by the Park. Their organizing collapsed under anti-racist pressure.
With this year’s rebellion against racism and police brutality, both the Dekalb County NAACP and newer organizers held protests at Stone Mountain Park. In addition, on the 4th of July a Black armed demonstration by the “Not Fucking Around Coalition” (NFAC) took place at Stone Mountain, symbolically challenging white supremacists, “rednecks” and “three percenters”. (Our group does not support NFAC insofar as their leader, Grandmaster Jay, disseminates antisemitic propaganda.) Some far-Right organizers now cite this rally as a reason for their own mobilization, although others had been considering an event before July 4.
At least three different groups currently vow to rally at Stone Mountain on August 15: “Protect the South”, a III% militia mobilization headed by the “Confederate States III%”, and finally American Patriots USA (APUSA) which is led by longtime white supremacist Chester Doles. Another neo-Nazi who was until recently a key APUSA organizer is also riling up his audience about Stone Mountain.
(1) Protect the South
On July 9, the “Protect the South” Facebook page called for an August 15 “Defend Stone Mountain” rally. Although another group, the Confederate States III%, made a Facebook event for August 15 two days earlier, “Protect the South” had been thinking about a rally for some time before. On June 30th, “Protect the South” shared a news story about Dekalb NAACP protesting at the Park and asked its audience: “Ready for another rally?”
The administrator of the “Protect the South” Facebook page is Adam Wesley Sitton, whose history in organized neo-Nazism we discussed in a 2016 article. Sitton’s name and address appeared on a leaked mid-2000s membership list for the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi group. Sitton was later involved in the American National Socialist Workers Party (ANSWP), a split from the NSM. One of Sitton’s websites listed Sitton as briefly holding the position of “Georgia Leader” for the ANSWP.
Since his time as an explicit neo-Nazi in the mid-2000s, Sitton now portrays himself as a conservative. In 2015, Sitton even argued that explicit calls for “white power” were counterproductive. However, this showed a preference for coded language rather than any rejection of racism – Sitton was arguing with neo-Nazis and Klansmen about what would best advance “our” cause.
Previous rallies organized by Sitton’s “Protect the South” Facebook page have attracted white supremacists. A September 2015 “Protect the South” rally in Washington, DC promoted through the Facebook page included supporters of the white supremacist League of the South. Sitton’s “Protect the South” was a major promoter of the November 2015 pro-Confederate rally at Stone Mountain Park that was co-organized by a Klan couple and featured a clear KKK presence.
Sitton declares the upcoming rally to be against “the Left Wing traitors and the racist Black Lives Matter movement who wish to erase our Ancestors Heritage and destroy our Monuments!”
Protect the South’s upcoming event has received mention on Stormfront, a white power forum linked to almost a hundred murders.
(2) Confederate States III% “Heritage Not Hate”
The “Confederate States III% militia” (CS III%) made a Facebook event for their “Defending Stone Mountain” rally on July 7, two days before Sitton created the “Defend Stone Mountain” Facebook event. CSIII% is headed by a couple in Paragould, Arkansas, Rodney Huffman and Debbie J Guin (“Dab Demere”).
The Confederate States III% is a multiracial (though majority-white) militia that presents itself as a “Heritage Not Hate” group and has a small presence in several states. They are part of the wider, decentralized III% militia movement. The militia hosted a tiny “National Patriots Summit” at a campground in Bristol, Tennessee last year and has held survivalist trainings. The couple who head CS III% travel to events around the South, but much of the militia’s recruiting happens on Facebook.
The CS III% organizers claim to have “alot [sic] of Patriots organizations working together” for their event. Unlike Wesley Sitton’s “Protect the South”, the CS III% organizers frame their August 15 rally as a “response to the NFAC […] calling the Three Percenters out”.
It is important to note that the various far-Right calls to action for August 15 do not represent different rallies on the day, since in practice the events will mesh together.
Although CS III% has networked widely with other III% militias, one group that is currently not scheduled to attend is the III% Security Force (III% SF), a larger III% organization that had an armed presence at other Stone Mountain rallies. The III% SF leader, Georgia’s Chris Hill, has accused CS III% of cowardice for not directly messaging NFAC for a showdown. A CS III% organizer has referred to the III% Security Force leader as “Idiot Hill”. (Permissions on the Facebook event page were changed before publication, hiding the comment.)
(3) American Patriots USA
The leader of American Patriots USA, Chester Doles, has spent a lifetime in the white supremacist movement. A self-described “fourth-generation Klansman”, in 1993 Doles and another Klan organizer viciously beat a Black man in Maryland simply because a white woman was a passenger in his vehicle. After serving a prison sentence, Doles relocated to Georgia, where he headed the state unit of the National Alliance, at the time the largest neo-Nazi organization in North America. A federal weapons charge led to another prison sentence. In recent years, Doles has been active with “Crew 38”, the feeder club for the violent Hammerskins racist gang. Doles was part of the Hammerskins crew at the bloody “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, 2017.
Last September, Doles hosted a rally in Dahlonega, Georgia, which featured both Black pro-Trump commentator Lucretia Hughes and Hitler-loving Jovanni Valle as speakers, and was supported by a contingent of north Georgia Klansmen. Following this rally, Doles formed a new, ostensibly pro-Trump organization called “American Patriots USA” (APUSA) which held its first official meeting in December. Doles simultaneously networks and organizes with white supremacists all while claiming that APUSA is not a racist organization and that he has walked away from the white supremacist movement. This pose has allowed Doles to build broader alliances, including with Republican political candidates and far-Right people of color. Doles signals to his white supremacist associates that he is still on their side via his VKontakte (VK) social media, where he still shares materials from the white nationalist movement.
On July 10, Doles announced on his VK social media that American Patriots USA and its allies were hosting an upcoming rally at Stone Mountain. An official announcement appeared on the APUSA website a few days later, giving August 15 as the date.
As a former KKK leader, Doles understands the importance and symbolism of Stone Mountain to white supremacists. Doles keeps in contact with many present-day Klan organizers through his social media. The “Chaplain” of American Patriots USA, Robert Timothy Dickenson, is also a Klan supporter. Dickenson was a member of the Original Knight Riders, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. More recently, Dickenson wore International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan apparel when he accompanied the American Patriots USA float in Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Days parade in October.
(4) Michael Carothers and the “White Information Network”
Finally, Georgia racist organizer Michael Carothers (AKA Michael Weaver) has encouraged protest at Stone Mountain, writing July 11 on Facebook:
“Never ask permission from a public servant to exercise a constitutional right. The US Constitution is our permit!”
Carothers has also alluded to protest at Stone Mountain on his “White Information Network” blog, writing on July 5th that “perhaps we should organize another demonstration” there.
Carothers has a long history in the white supremacist scene. Like Doles, Carothers was a member of the National Alliance. Carothers has also served a sentence for attacking a Black man. Both Doles and Carothers attended “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville. Until recently, Carothers was involved with American Patriots USA, where he played a behind-the-scenes role and approached at least one Republican candidate on behalf of the organization. Chester Doles now states that Carothers is no longer in the organization.
Carothers’ public statements about Stone Mountain are worth noting because of Carothers’ role as a networker in the racist underground. “Michael Weaver” featured in leaked planning discussions for “Unite the Right II” in Washington, DC, the 2018 follow-up to the deadly rally in Charlottesville. Now that Carothers is drawing his white nationalist audience’s attention to protests at Stone Mountain, some will likely attend or otherwise take advantage of the situation.
We are circulating this documentation to alert the community. Although the August 15 rallies are supposedly not about “hate”, organizers with long histories in the racist movement are promoting the event and rallying their numbers. The aim is a show of intimidation. If they succeed, they are likely to return again.
Community groups and anti-racists are building a coalition to oppose the August 15 rally at Stone Mountain. We will share updates on our social media as information becomes available. In the meantime, please share this documentation to your friends and in your community, and encourage others to keep the day of August 15 free.