Scene calm before frenzy of big game, planned protests
ATLANTA /January 8, 2018 (AP)(STL.News) — A light, cold rain fell on the fans tailgating and wandering around downtown Atlanta ahead of Monday night’s College Football Playoff title game, but there were no anti-Trump demonstrators in sight.
At least two groups have announced plans to protest President Donald Trump’s visit to Atlanta for the game, which was set to kick off after 8 p.m. But their announced actions were scheduled for later in the day, closer to the time of the president’s arrival.
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 inside nearby restaurants and the Georgia World Congress Center, waiting for the stadium gates to open. Crowds were sparse for most of the day’s concerts in Centennial Olympic Park.
Cars clogged streets around the stadium, and some garages were charging as much as $60 to park for the evening.
The NAACP urged people to wear white and wave white towels in the stadium whenever the president appears, mocking the “snowflake” insult 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 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.
Another group, Refuse Fascism ATL, said it was planning a demonstration outside CNN’s world headquarters near Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The group plans to “take a knee” there at 6:30 p.m.
Atlanta police set up designated areas for demonstrations and 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.