On Sunday, about 4,500 people and 1,500 cars, pickups and motor bikes were involved in a national rally aimed at expressing support to the controversial confederate emblem in Ocala, Florida. All the vehicles displayed confederate flags although states in the South currently plan to banish the rival flag from public view.
The organizers of the “Florida Southern Pride Ride” argued that the flag has different meanings to different people.
“It doesn’t symbolize hate unless you think it’s hate – and that’s your problem, not mine,”
one of the organizers noted.
The confederate emblem was eyed by authorities after the Charleston Church massacre, where nine African Americans including the pastor were shot and killed by a white 21-year-old who had displayed the confederate flag on his racist website.
In the wake of the killings, states had various reactions. South Carolina and Alabama decided to remove the flag from their statehouse, while some U.S. congressional lawmakers made a proposal of completely remove the emblem from the United States Capitol.
But as regulators try harder to remove the flag from stores and public displays, they encounter a strong backlash in some locations across the country. The rally participants were from different Southern states including California. They said that they honored the death of Southern soldiers killed in the American Civil War whenever they displayed the confederate emblem.
In Ocala, somebody ordered the flag down from a government building, but Marion County regulators overruled the decision and now the flag freely flutters atop of the building once more.
Jessica McRee a law enforcement officer who supervised Sunday’s rally said that the confederate emblem was a piece of American heritage. She also expressed her discontent with those who wanted “a piece of history” to be removed from public view.
In Mississippi, however, the situation is a little more complicated. The state has the confederate emblem inserted in its official flag’s design. So people are highly divided. For instance, Hattiesburg completely banned the flag from government buildings, while Petal, a town located three miles away, decided to keep the emblem on top of all official buildings.
The Governor declined to settle the issue at state level and allowed local authorities to do as they will. In 2001, state’s residents overwhelmingly voted for the current flag’s design. Sons of Confederate an organization whose members are descending from Confederate soldiers, announced that a “backlash” was coming. The organization said that its 30,000 members would put five to six flags up for every flag that is taken down.
Image Source: My News 13