Pro-Confederacy Supporter Promises Civil War Victory at Georgia Rally

A pro-Confederacy supporter appeared to suggest there would be a Civil War "victory" during a controversial rally celebrating the Confederate Memorial Day this past weekend in Georgia.

Roughly 200 members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) gathered outside of a Confederate monument in Georgia's Stone Mountain park Saturday to honor their "heritage and history," one member told Reuters. However, the group was met with over 100 counter-protesters who accused them of being "racists traitors" and celebrating the United States' pro-slavery past.

Amid a chorus of "boos" and jeering from the counter-protesters, one SCV member shouted that the group has been "fighting this war since 1861," while adding that they will ultimately "be victorious," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday.

The rally had been the subject of intense criticism since the group was approved in March by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to gather in the area for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stone Mountain, a park located northeast of Atlanta, has long held ties to white nationalist movements including the Ku Klux Klan.

Stone Mountain
A pro-Confederacy supporter appeared to suggest there would be a Civil War "victory" during a controversial rally celebrating the Confederate Memorial Day this past weekend in Georgia. Above, the carving of three Confederate leaders, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, at Stone Mountain State Park in Georgia on October 16, 2021. Daniel SLIM / AFP/Getty Images

Protesters against the SCV have accused its members and leadership of similarly espousing racist views.

Martin O'Toole, the spokesperson for Georgia's branch of the SCV, has several ties to white nationalist groups, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Toole is also on the board of the Charles Martel Society, which publishes a journal that has previously questioned the validity of the Holocaust and promoted racist theories about the genetic intelligence of Black people, the newspaper reported.

During his remarks on Saturday, O'Toole encouraged SCV supporters to withdraw from modern society and adopt a strategy of "internal exile," by associating only "with like-minded persons." Meanwhile, others who attended the controversial rally included friends of O'Toole who admitted to being "pro-white," according to the Atlanta Journal- Constitution

"There are more of us than you think, people who think like us. White nationalists, pro-Confederate, pro-white," said Randy Sheppard, who has been a longtime friend of O'Toole's since attending the University of Georgia in the 1970s, the newspaper reported.

Timothy Pilgrim, the Georgia Division Director of the SCV, denied knowing about O'Toole's ties to white nationalism and objected to accusations that the group is focused on race. "This has nothing to do about race, we welcome all to our programs," he told Reuters before the event started.

Among those who protested the rally included several members of Georgia NAACP groups and other civil rights supporters. Gerald Griggs, the NAACP state president, shared photos of activists standing against "hate" on Twitter Saturday.

Georgia resident Brian Smith, who marched with counter-protesters, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was disappointed that the park allowed the event to take place.

"I'm just sad that I have to be here," he said. "Nobody wants to be truthful. This mountain is a symbol of hate. It's a symbol of people that supported segregation....It's just a stain on the state of Georgia."

The rally came amid a larger movement in the U.S. to protest and remove Confederate monuments. Newsweek reported in September that more than 200 Confederate monuments had been removed or relocated since May 2020.

Newsweek contacted the SCV for comment.