Militia group holds protest over mosque in Newton County

Armed protesters rally against Newton mosque plans

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. -- A militia group is holding a protest over a mosque proposal in Newton County on Tuesday

The Newton County Board of Commissioners canceled a meeting Tuesday where it was expected that they’d lift a moratorium blocking plans for an Islamic mosque and cemetery planned in the area.  The mosque would sit on 135 acres of land on Highway 162 and County Road Line.

Newton County manager Lloyd Kerr said the meeting was canceled after video of a militia group "exhibiting harassing or violent behavior" in a neighboring county circulated on social media. The person who posted that video, Chris Hill, later took it down.

PHOTOS: Militia group protests planned mosque

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Hill said that his group, known as III% Georgia Security Force, still planned to protest outside the historic Newton County Courthouse.

About two dozen members of the armed militia showed up for the protest. Seen among the members were two AR-15s, a few handguns and megaphone.

The Newton County Sheriff's Department said they looked into Hill's original video and said there were no actual threats made. The spokesperson did say that the group was being watched by Homeland Security.

RELATED | Emails: Newton Commissioner wanted to 'impact' mosque, cemetery project

The group describes itself as a “brotherhood of State Militiamen and women, Patriotic civilians, Individuals, Freedom Fighters, and Media personnel from Patriotic political activism groups” who “come to the defense of public and private property, lives, and liberty to exercise God-given rights, seen plainly in the laws of Nature, and codified in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, if need be.”

Members of the Newton County community have been divided over the mosque proposal.  After a heated public hearing last month, the county commissioner's office and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement announcing their intent to lift the moratorium.

The five-week moratorium is set to expire Sept. 20, and Kerr said that commissioners still intend to honor that expiration date.

11Alive's Chris Hopper reported from the protest. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

(© 2016 WXIA)


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