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Anti-Racist Protesters Challenge "Mask Law" in Court — and on the Street

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STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. - Jan. 10, 2019 - s4story -- On January 7, 2019, 31-year-old Alan Hutzel appeared before Judge John Herbert Cranford in Coweta County with a motion to dismiss his case. Arrested last April in Newnan for wearing a mask while protesting a Nazi rally, Hutzel argued that since he wore the mask to protect himself from being identified by white supremacists, his actions did not meet the criterion of "intent to intimidate" which is required by case law regarding Georgia state law O.C.G.A. 16-11-38.

The parties in Hutzel's case will argue further in a future hearing, but the issue of how the mask law is enforced will likely be tested again soon. White supremacists have announced plans to hold a rally at Stone Mountain on February 2, similar to the 2016 rally that pitted white supremacists and counter-protesters against each other and caused the park to close for the day. Although Stone Mountain denied a permit for the rally, both white supremacists and anti-racist counter-protesters have stated their intention to hold events at the park on that day.

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Frontline Organizations Working to End Racism, or FLOWER, is a coalition of groups planning a counter-protest to any white supremacist event on February 2, and they say that it's possible some protesters will wear masks.

"Anti-racist protesters don't wear masks to intimidate," says Andrea McDonald, one of the FLOWER coalition organizers; "they wear masks to protect themselves from being identified and targeted by white supremacists." Right-wing extremists often publish private information about anti-racist protesters and encourage their followers to harass leftist activists.

Michael Carothers, an admin of the Facebook page for the upcoming white supremacist rally, stated on social media that a Georgia State Patrol officer promised him they would arrest any anti-racist protestors who wear masks at the February 2 event. And white nationalist Brad Griffin (who uses the alias Hunter Wallace) has said he will "dox" and harass any anti-racist protesters who are identified at the rally.

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If the promise Carothers claims the police made to him holds true, then Stone Mountain prosecutors should be prepared to prove that protesters wear masks with the intent to intimidate – or they may find themselves defending any mask-related arrests in court.




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