ATLANTA/January 08, 2018(AP)(STL.News)—A few dozen protesters took a knee in cold, light rain on a sidewalk near the venue of the College Football Playoff title game Monday evening, shouting slogans against President Donald Trump.
A few police officers looked on at the small, peaceful protest as a leader with a bullhorn led chants in the direction of fans streaming past them before game time to Mercedez-Benz Stadium, about three blocks away.
“Black lives matter! Women’s lives matter and immigrants’ lives matter!” protesters chanted, some opening umbrellas against the rain. Three of them carried a sign that said, “The Trump-Pence Machine Must Go.” Another sign in the group read, “Time’s Up.”
Tee Stern, with the group called Refuse Facism ATL, said the demonstration was called to “take a knee” against the Trump administration.
“We are getting the message out across the country to everyone that is agonizing and very angry and fearful of the fact that we are facing down a fascist regime and it needs to be stopped,” Stern told The Associated Press.
The protest came ahead of Trump’s scheduled arrival at the downtown Atlanta stadium for the planned 8 p.m. kickoff between the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia.
For hours earlier Monday, as light rain fell off and on, there had been no anti-Trump protesters in sight.
With the rain’s unpleasantness compounded by temperatures in the 30s, many fans — decked out in University of Georgia red-and-black or University of Alabama crimson — sought refuge ahead of the game inside nearby restaurants and the Georgia World Congress Center, waiting for the stadium gates to open. Crowds were also sparse for most of the day’s concerts in nearby Centennial Olympic Park.
In another planned protest, the NAACP Atlanta branch urged people to wear white and wave white towels when the president arrived at the stadium or when his name was mentioned. Organizers said the show of white was intended to mock the “snowflake” insult that Trump supporters make against the president’s opponents.
“We’re going to make a snowflake turn into a mighty blizzard inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium when Mr. Trump comes,” Gerald Griggs, a vice president of the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said at a news conference earlier Monday.
The organization also planned a “Twitter storm” beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing through the end of the game. They plan to use the hashtag #AllTrumpsLies to highlight what they say are lies told by the president.
Atlanta police set up designated areas for demonstrations and had previously said they wouldn’t interfere unless protesters break the law. Local, state and federal law enforcement authorities said they’ve worked for months to develop security plans.