Dozens of Confederate flag-waving demonstrators convened on Washington, D.C. Saturday in response to an escalating nationwide debate over monuments honoring the Confederacy. The marchers were met by much larger group of counter-demonstrators, many of them believed to be associated with the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement that has erupted amid a rash of police brutality incidents targeting African-Americans.



Security officers worked to keep the peace while allowing the so-called Southern Heritage rally to take place in front of the U.S. Capitol. Mild scuffles were reported on social media including one at the city’s Union Station in which activists labeled the Southern Heritage demonstrators members of the Ku Klux Klan, a hate group with roots dating back to the mid-1800s.



The “Save Southern Heritage & History March” continued throughout the day at D.C.’s Upper Senate Park. The group’s Facebook page showed a small group of Confederate flag wavers passing near Capitol Hill, and according to some estimates only about 50 people showed up. At one point the Southern Heritage protestors were so overmatched that security reportedly had to push counter demonstrators back.



“This Black Lives Matter bull is racism that the government don’t see,” Ron Feathers from Elliston, Virginia, told left-leaning news website ThinkProgress. “It’s white genocide propaganda. They’re pushing folks to shoot cops and white people.”

The event comes in the wake of the June 17 mass murder of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, allegedly by an avowed white supremacist who waved the Confederate flag as a symbol of racist hatred in a host of images he posted on a website. Since the mass shooting, state and local governments as well as public universities have been pressured to remove symbols of the Confederacy, including the Confederate battle flag and statues of Confederate war leaders.