Ga.’s Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Condemn Stone Mountain Protest

As activists call for the removal of the Confederate monument at Stone Mountain, Georgia’s Republican candidates for governor have said they’d defend it.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

On the Fourth of July, members of Atlanta’s NAACP branch marched up Stone Mountain calling for the removal of the Confederate monument.

It’s the largest in the country and the carving on the north side of the mountain features Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Atlanta’s NAACP President Richard Rose said it’s the carvings’ origins that bother him.

“These monuments were erected,” Rose said. “They’re not to promote bigotry. They were erected out of resistance; resistance to the freeing of the slaves, the resistance to black men being allowed to vote.”

The call to remove the monuments has become a talking point for the two Republican candidates running to governor.

Casey Cagle tweeted that Stone Mountain and the carving is a “cultural attraction” and said he would “stand up to extremists” who want to remove it.

Daniel Franklin, associate professor of political science at Georgia State University, said Cagle’s tweet is a savvy political move to attract the vote of Confederate sympathizers.

“I think Cagle, when he says what he says, you could read it as a dog whistle to the Lost Cause crowd which is a substantial part of the republican constituency,” Franklin said.

Cagle’s opponent, Brian Kemp, tweeted a day later that he too would protect Stone Mountain from the “radical left.”

Rose said he’s glad this conversation caught their eyes.

“It’s an honor to be termed as an extremist,” he said. “If because we are extremely serious about having an America that recognizes the rights of all of its citizens.”

Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams has not commented on this latest protest. Last year she called for the removal of the carving saying it remained a “blight on our state.”