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Nationalist group attempts to disrupt Abrams campaign event

Members of a group calling itself the Nationalist Liberty Union attempted to disrupt a Democratic campaign rally for candidate Stacey Abrams earlier this month.
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 22: Georgia Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams takes the stage to declare victory in the primary during an election night event on May 22, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

At a Stacey Abrams for Governor campaign rally in Augusta for female veterans and dependents on Labor Day, members of a group calling itself the Nationalist Liberty Union showed up to protest the Democratic nominee's appearance.

On their Facebook page, the group describes their mission as one to "unify America as a Euro-centric Christian nation."

Members of the group stood outside the event holding signs supporting Confederate monuments.

One of the members of the group who remained outside identified himself on social media as Steven Stachowiak, and called himself, in online posts, a proud Kemp supporter.

Video of the event was provided by the Augusta Chronicle:

While most of the members remained outside, shouting racial epithets and invectives at those attending, one member, Paul Lovett, entered the rally, intending to challenge Abrams directly.

Lovett interrupted the candidate several times before being permitted, during the Q-and-A session to ask his question, about Abrams' stance on the removal of the Confederate monuments at Stone Mountain Park.

Abrams began to address the question, linking the Confederate monuments to last year's violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer. Lovett interrupted her, yelling loudly about how the Confederate monuments were "veterans monuments, ma'am -- veterans monuments."

Abrams continued, saying that Heyer was murdered. She then referred to Stone Mountain in particular as the "single largest monument to domestic terrorism in our nation's history," saying she would remove it.

"I said I would remove it, because as a person, and more importantly as an African-American woman standing for office in the Deep South, I cannot countenance that type of celebration paid for by state dollars," Abrams said. "I have never once used the phrase 'sandblast.' That was appropriated - or rather attributed to me by a reporter - I never said it."

Abrams pointed out the history of the Stone Mountain carving, and that the completion of its carving was funded and completed under the direction of the state of Georgia.

Lovett interrupted once again, citing a 1958 federal law, and falsely claiming that Confederate veterans are United States Veterans. The law he cited, which many white nationalists use to bolster their claims, is United States Code 85-425, Sec. 410, dated May 23, 1958.

That particular law actually does not make former Confederate soldiers American veterans, nor does it provide any special status for Confederate monuments. The law in question actually reads:

"Sec. 410. The Administrator shall pay to each person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War a monthly pension in the same amounts and subject to the same conditions as would have been applicable to such person under the laws in effect on December 31, 1957, if his service in such forces had been service in the military or naval service of the United States."

It was intended to provide for a pension to the few remaining Confederate veterans and Confederate widows still alive at that time, based upon the then-current pay scale for the military forces. There was nothing in the law that established Confederate veterans as U.S. veterans.

Before continuing the event, Abrams addressed the gentleman and his remarks once more, saying, "I worked for all the people in the state of Georgia, including people who agree with me and those who vehemently disagreed with me."

Lovett was then escorted out of the rally, while the other members of his group remained outside.

When reached by 11Alive News about the exchange and the nationalist group, Abigail Collazo, director of strategic communications at Stacey Abrams for Governor released a statement Monday:

“It is profoundly disturbing that Brian Kemp has not denounced the hate speech of these white supremacists who threatened a veteran at an event intended to honor her service. Veterans deserve our highest respect, and this kind of bullying flies in the face of Georgia values. Brian Kemp should condemn such despicable behavior that was carried out in his name.”

While there was no violence at the Augusta Abrams event and no verbal threats directed to attendees to the rally, Abrams' team called the lack of response from the Kemp camp "profoundly disturbing."

11Alive News has reached out to the Kemp campaign and asked how the group can be identified as Kemp supporters.

While 11Alive does not have that directly confirmed, social media photos from the event show a Kemp For Governor sign being held by one of the event protesters.

Later in the day on Monday, the Kemp campaign released the following statement:

Brian Kemp unequivocally condemns hatred, violence, and bigotry, and find claims of racial superiority to be indefensible and contrary to the highest ideals of our country."

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