Backlash over controversial flyer aimed at Stacey Abrams prompts Forsyth Republicans to cancel rally

A flyer from the Forsyth County Republican Party is sparking anger, with some calling it racist and dangerous, especially given the county’s violent past in race relations.

The flyer came out just days before a barbecue meet-and-greet for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams Sunday in Cumming. The backlash prompted the county’s Republican party to cancel its own rally, which was planned for the same time Sunday.

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The flyer announces “a call to action to save and protect our neighborhoods, our communities and our county!”

It goes on to say the “designers of destructive radicalism and socialism are crossing over our county border and into Cumming THIS Sunday.”

Channel 2′s Brian Mims talked to Melissa Clink, the chair of the Forsyth County Democratic Party. Clink said the language is intimidating and carries racist overtones.

“I was so angry,” she said. “Angry that people would try to use what has happened in Forsyth County in the past to kind of install fear into people of color coming to the rally.”

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She’s referring to the county’s racial cleansing in 1912, when a white mob forced the Black population of roughly 1,100 to flee the county.

“It wasn’t that very long ago when it was violent in Forsyth County when civil rights leaders came to town,” she said. “So we want to make sure we condemn it.”

Mims went to the county’s Republican headquarters Monday, but nobody was inside the building, and emails weren’t immediately returned. The local party did send a news release to announce the cancellation.

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“Forsyth County is a proud and diverse county with conservative values,” the release said. “After much deliberation and consultation, we have decided to redirect our efforts for the rally planned for Sunday, September 18.”

The release said the organization would instead focus on welcoming Gov. Brian Kemp to Forsyth County the following day.

“We will always strive to make choices that honor and protect Forsyth County,” the release said. “In the interest of all involved, we will err on the side of caution and withdraw our planned rally.”

Channel 2 Action Mews showed the flyer to a couple of Forsyth County residents, including registered Republican Carmelo Centeno.

“It’s pretty aggressive language,” he said. “It’s 2022, about to be 2023, and I feel there’s no right place to have particular language like that, saying they’re coming across our borders. It’s an open country, right? I don’t think there’s a border here to protect.”

Dawn Densmore is a Democrat who lives in Forsyth County, said she feels ashamed.

“I think it’s disgraceful and I think it’s the absolute opposite of patriotism. It’s upsetting,” Densmore said.

The Republican Women of Forsyth County, a private group, issued its own statement, writing:

The Republican Women of Forsyth County would like to make it clear to all interested parties that we do not condone or engage in tactics that are intended to intimidate, harass, or silence people who hold different political views.”