DAHLONEGA— A sign in downtown Dahlonega bearing Ku Klux Klan imagery has been taken down amid protests against it.
The sign, which was placed above the permanently closed Piazza Italian restaurant, showed a Klansman with an outstretched hand and the words “Historic Ku Klux Klan Meeting Hall.” Confederate and Klan flags were also placed on the building.
Bill Schmid, Dahlonega city manager, said the sign was taken down shortly after 10 a.m. because it violated a local ordinance by not having a permit and that the flags were removed sometime in the early afternoon by an unknown citizen.
He also said a rumor that the sign was connected to a film project was not validated but did not know who was responsible for hanging it.
Daniel Blackman, who ran as the Democratic challenger against Dist. 27 state Sen. Michael Williams last year, was among those protesting.
“I came out to stand with the 20 or 30 people here to say Dahlonega was not a place for that kind of rhetoric,” he said. “What I was told by a gentleman that works across the street is sometime between midnight and 7 o’clock this morning, someone put up signs on the building."
Blackman, the first African-American to run for Forsyth County’s state Senate seat, said the protesters were predominantly white and local to the area. He said some drivers even stopped to lend support.
“The way they were dressed, it looked like they were just coming back from working and they all got out and said, ‘We can’t stay, but we’re disgusted. That’s not what our town is about,” he said. “I think the overall reception is that people here are not going to stand for that being up in their community.”
There were also some who spoke against the protestors. Blackman said some tried to make the protest political but that those who showed up against the sign are both Democrats and Republicans.
“There have been … three or four people drive by that kind of tried to politicize it. One person came by and was saying ‘Trump,’ but this is not about Trump; it’s about that there’s a sign downtown,” he said. “One person identified as a Republican and other people are regular citizens and they said, “Look, this is not what our county stands for and we’re going to stand against it.”
He said concerns were also raised that the sign was a matter of free speech and protesting would only make the city look negative.
“It’s not about bringing negative attention,” Blackman said, “it’s about standing up, and we are not going to tolerate this anywhere in north Georgia.”