STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Stone Mountain Park will be closed Saturday due to security concerns.
The Stone Mountain Memorial Association put out a statement late Friday announcing the closure. The release reads:
“The Stone Mountain Park Police Department will be closing the park to the public tomorrow, Saturday, February 2, 2019. No vehicles or pedestrian traffic will be allowed into the park. Only hotel and campground guests will be allowed entry and exit through the park gate.”
A white supremacist group had petitioned to rally at the park this weekend due to the significance of the site and its proximity to the Super Bowl this weekend. Those permit requests were denied, but rumors lingered there would be a gathering despite those denials.
Stone Mountain Police said they have identified security concerns and are working to address them with various state and local law enforcement agencies.
The specifics as to those security concerns were not immediately released.
On Saturday, organizers with the group FLOWER, which was formed as a response to the rally and who support the removal of the carving in the mountain, gathered near the park and met with Stone Mountain Police Chief Chancey H. Troutman.
"We're here to make sure everything is peaceful, and I do believe you all will be peaceful in my city of Stone Mountain," Troutman told the crowd.
NOW: Stone Mountain PD Chief just addressed a large crowd gathered in Stone Mountain Village. The crowd has gathered in response to the news that Stone Mountain Park will be closed today after a white supremacist group petition to rally at the park was denied. @FOX5Atlanta #news pic.twitter.com/22EKg57nU3— Billy Heath III (@BillyHeathFOX5) February 2, 2019
Stone Mountain is noted as the site of the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915.
Later, funds were raised to carve the largest bas-relief in the world into the side of the mountain depending three Confederate figures, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Annual Labor Day cross-burning ceremonies were held in front of the giant rock facade until the state of Georgia condemned and purchased the property in 1958.
The site was famously immortalized with the line "Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia" in Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in 1963.
Seven years after the park was condemned, the state opened the property as a park serving "as a memorial to the Confederacy."
In recent years, the subjects in the bas-relief have sparked controversy as Southern state re-examine the role of public Confederate monuments.
Today, Stone Mountain Park is one of the most visited destinations in the state offering camping, rides, and other family-friendly amenities.
Stone Mountain is located several miles east of downtown Atlanta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium where Super Bowl LIII will be held this Sunday.