Dahlonega city officials are preparing for a pro-Trump rally and possible counter protests on Saturday in the town square.
According to a flyer for the "American Patriot Rally,” it’s an event to honor the flag and President Trump. But promoters of the rally have a history of ties to the Ku Klux Klan, and the event has been heavily shared on white supremacist websites.
As for why the Dahlonega was selected to play host to the event, Mayor Sam Norton said he isn’t exactly sure, but believes it may be due to the city’s ability to attract tourists.
“We have been very successful in the tourist industry and we’re a family values-oriented community,” Norton said. “At any given time, we have a large daytime population of tourists from the surrounding region — I suppose that might be one reason we were unfortunately selected for this event.”
Norton said he has some anxieties about the event but is praying that rallygoers and counter protesters remain peaceful and issued a warning to anyone who plans to not be.
"Just bring a credit card if you're going to come up to Dahlonega and plan on expressing violence,” he said. “Because you'll probably need it to get out of jail. We're going to enforce all of our laws.”
Norton said he and the city officials “welcome peaceful expressions of all of our God given rights and constitutional rights,” but stressed that violence and destruction in the community will not be tolerated.
Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said they will be working with local, state and federal officials to ensure safety at the event. He would not say how many law enforcement officials would be present.
Jarrard offered some advice to people who are unsure about coming to the city’s downtown area during the rally.
“Use your own judgement,” he said. “Some people are curious and like to see what’s going on, but that can put you in harm’s way. I would say avoid the location just for safety.”
Two years ago, hundreds of people in the north Georgia city protested after a KKK banner and flags were draped over a building on the main square.