The Confederate flag’s days may be numbered, but some who desperately want to hold onto the symbol as a representative of their Southern heritage are rallying to support it. Supporters held protests in states including South Carolina, Alabama and Florida on Friday and Saturday, calling for the continued use of the controversial flag.
Nearly 1,000 protesters gathered in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday afternoon to express their anger over the Confederate flag being removed from the state capitol there, reports the Montgomery Advertiser. Called “The Southerns Rally,” the private event was held at the state Capitol in response to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordering the removal of Confederate flags from the state capitol earlier this week. The rally included speakers and singing groups belting out songs like the Southern National Anthem.
— SPLC (@splcenter) June 27, 2015
Mike Williams, adjutant for the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the state of Alabama, organized the rally because “our heritage is being put into museums," he said. "We have a right to honor our history just like everyone else does."
At South Carolina’s state capitol in Columbia, where Gov. Nikki Haley has called for the removal of the Confederate flag, a black female activist climbed the flagpole early Saturday morning to remove the flag before she was arrested.
The flag was replaced in time for a planned pro-Confederate flag rally at the capitol later in the day.
— Arik Bjorn (@arikbjorn) June 27, 2015
In Tampa, Florida, hundreds of supporters participated in a “Drive for Pride” on Friday night, according to Fort Myers, Florida, newspaper the News-Press. More than 300 cars adorned with the Confederate flag drove from Brandon, Florida, to Tampa and back in support of the flag and Southern heritage. Another ride is scheduled in Seminole, Florida, for Saturday evening.
— 10 News (@WTSP10News) June 26, 2015
Calls for the removal of the Confederate flag were renewed in the wake of the brutal mass shooting of nine black churchgoers in a Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this month. The suspect, Dylann Roof, is allegedly a white supremacist who brandished Confederate flag imagery in a manifesto website he published online before the shooting.