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'Pro-white' rally and prom scheduled for same park: How close is too close?

The Atlanta-area school says it does not foresee any overlap between the two events, but for some students, the juxtaposition has cast a shadow on their highly anticipated event.

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Stone Mountain says it would rather not have the rally, but the group has a legal permit.

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An Atlanta-area school district is fielding parental concerns after it was revealed that the school’s annual prom would occur on the same day and at the same park as a "pro-white" rally in Stone Mountain, Ga.

School officials say that there will be no overlap between the two events, which are both planned for April 23. The pro-white rally is scheduled to end two hours before the prom begins. The rally and the prom will also occur in different parts of the 3,200-acre park.  

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“As always, the safety of our students is our primary focus and we do not anticipate any issues, as the two events do not overlap in time or location,” Peachtree Ridge High School Principal Jeff Matthews wrote to parents in an email. “Please know that we are working closely with local law enforcement and Stone Mountain Park officials to ensure the safety and security of our students during this special school event.”

The rally will by hosted by the Rock Stone Mountain group, which professes white-supremacist values. A mission statement posted on the group's Facebook page. Another group, called “All Out Atlanta,” is advocating for a counter-demonstration, which is not currently permitted.

Despite parental concerns, school officials and prom organizers are unwilling to cancel the dance, which has been planned for years, saying it would be unfair to students.

Students expressed their own opinions about the rally to local news station WMAZ.

“It might be good for your cause, but it's tearing people down, it's tearing them apart,” said Peachtree Ridge senior Tianna Long to those interested in the rally. “And it's ignorance on your part.”

“The fact that our school will have to be overshadowed by a ‘pro-white’ rally and people are going around at school talking about, ‘Oh, the KKK is coming,’ and, ‘Oh, they're coming to our prom,’ ” she told the local news outlet. “And the fact that we have this stigma now on a great school is terrible.”

Stone Mountain has long been a controversial site. The Stone Mountain State Park features a literal stone mountain with larger than life Southern legends carved into its granite face. Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and Confederate Jefferson Davis gaze stonily at park visitors, Mt. Rushmore style.

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The monument faced special scrutiny after the Charleston, S.C., shooting last summer prompted a nationwide debate over the Confederate flag.

In October, state authorities decided to erect a memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., at Stone Mountain.