Atlanta Anti-Islam Rally Draws Small Turnout, Large Security Presence

Apr 18, 2016

Despite having their permit denied earlier this year, a group of anti-Islamic protesters held a rally at the Georgia Capitol Monday.

James Stachowiak, an Evans, Georgia man who hosts the Freedom Fighter Radio podcast, and Terry Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center known for defacing the Quran, were the only two in attendance at the event. 

Stachowiak had predicted about 200 people would attend, but later walked that number back.

James Stachowiak stands, armed, for the rally across the street from the Capitol.
Credit Trevor Young / GPB

The men destroyed images of prominent U.S. politicians like President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch before ripping pages from a copy of the Quran.

Stachowiak said the actions were to protest current U.S. refugee policy, which he believes allows Islamic terrorists to enter the country. He also called for more resources for homeless American veterans.

Earlier calls from Stachowiak for event attendees to carry loaded guns at the event led to a heightened security presence and changes to Georgia State University’s local shuttle routes.

Stachowiak himself was armed, as were the about two-dozen members of the Georgia State Patrol gathered around the event. The event remained peaceful.

A number of people showed up to register their disapproval. A group of counter-protesters gathered a block over holding signs, but some walked right up to the crowd of reporters around Stachowiak and Jones.

Jihad Abdul Muhammad shares his concerns about the rally with reporters.
Credit Trevor Young / GPB

“You can tear the Quran up because you’re not hurting God. You’re not hurting me,” said Jihad Abdul Muhammad, a member of Atlanta’s Muslim community.

“You can tear it up all day long, that’s something you have to deal with [with] God not me. If you tear the Bible up, you’re not hurting Jesus. You’re not hurting me. So, I don’t let it bother me.”

Stachowiak also planned a similar rally later Monday in front of CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta.