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Time and Place: Confederate Shadows

A protest reaches new heights


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? On Saturday, Aug. 22, local activists filled two large balloons with helium and lifted a banner high into the air, partially obscuring the controversial carving of three Confederate generals carved into the world's largest exposed granite monolith. According to a petition launched by organizers, the activists were protesting Coca-Cola's sponsorship of Stone Mountain Park, which features several Confederate-era themed attractions.
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? The carefully organized event was organized in secrecy to not draw any unwanted attention before the launch. Part of the strategy, they told me, was to counter a pro-Confederate flag rally that was planned to start a little later in the afternoon. The two free-speech demonstrations never crossed paths. 
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? With all of the controversy surrounding this particular monument, I expected there to be some sort of opposition by the Stone Mountain Police. Or for a Confederate supporter, wearing the flag draped around their necks like a Southern super hero, to confront the activists. There was neither.
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????A couple of minutes went by after the launch of the banner that read "Heritage of Hate Coca-Cola Supports Racism." (Coca-Cola on Saturday did not return CL's request for comment.) A single Stone Mountain police officer calmly asked who was in charge and instructed the group to keep the balloons at a reasonable height and to keep the strength of the wind in mind. Park officials then grabbed a few signs they seemed to have on hand alerting park-goers that they were entering a free-speech area. Then, along with many other park goers, the officers stood and watched from the sidelines for the next two hours.
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