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Stone Mountain protests bring strong words, crowds but no arrests, police say

Police pointed to some altercations but said no one was injured or arrested among the roughly 200 protesters and counter-protesters.

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — When 200 people in opposing protests entered the City of Stone Mountain on Saturday, police say they were nearly outnumbered by law enforcement aiming on keeping the events peaceful.

In the hours that followed, it appears that they ultimately were. The City of Stone Mountain announced on Saturday afternoon that there were no arrests or injuries during the protests.

During the tense day, white nationalist demonstrators met in a standoff with counterprotesters. 

Minor altercations did occur within the course of the event, however, it was the position of the Stone Mountain Police not to escalate or to engage until the situation needed to be controlled by such force," the city said in a statement, "and until there was sufficient law enforcement presence at the scene to adequately and effectively engage."

That presence ultimately came in the form of officers wth the Stone Mountain Police Department as well as neighboring agencies such as DeKalb Police and state agencies. The city counted roughly 135 "agents" at the event, though it's unclear if this was counting officers, state agents, or both combined.

Protest groups on one side appeared to be composed of neo-Confederates and militia groups. On the other side were counterprotesters with banners supporting Black Lives Matter and Antifa while some came from the Democratic Socialists of America. An activist group known as F.L.O.W.E.R. United worked to organize the countering group.

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The groups had initially planned to meet in Stone Mountain Park but met instead in the city of the same name when the park was closed as a precaution.

One group rallied under the cry of "Defend Stone Mountain"  while the others chanted "Go home racists, go home" and "Nazies, go home."

The groups faced off for hours but were ultimately broken up by Georgia National Guardsmen and officers in riot gear. While there were no reports of major violence, some in the protest crowds claimed that pepper spray and a flash-bang were used toward the end.

The City of Stone Mountain confirmed that no permit was issued for any group to hold the event on Saturday; however, it was allowed to continue "in pursuit of safety and protection of the City's citizens, visitors, all law enforcement officers, and property, and to deter acts of riot."

The city added that it's chief made the decision to allow the event with a police presence as a means of providing all sides with an "opportunity to express their constitutional right to freedom of speech" so long as they didn't cause a major disruption of peace.

Events in Stone Mountain Park and the surrounding area have had mixed results in the past with occasional clashes between protesters and, in 2016, nine arrests.

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