The "oldest hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers" in the U.S. kicked off its annual convention Wednesday near the former capital of the Confederacy. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and its 120th yearly gathering caught the attention of many protesters, who demonstrated their opposition in response.
The five-day convention was scheduled to take place from July 15th to the 19th in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. Protesters met Wednesday in front of the home of Jefferson Davis and the Museum of Confederacy, where the Sons of Confederate Veterans gathered. Protesters held signs that read, “Heritage? Stop Excuse for Racism,” “Solidarity With Charleston,” “Stop Excuses For Racism” and “White Silence Equals Violence.” In response, a single Confederate flag bearer stood in the middle of the protesters with his young son.
"This flag didn't kill anybody, this flag is an inanimate object," the man said, according to NBC 12. “I don't think it should be labeled as a racist symbol, because I'm certainly not a racist person. I'm not raising my son to be a racist."
The group planned to hold the majority of their conference at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel located in Chesterfield, Virginia, and protesters began to pressure the hotel over the group’s Confederate flag displays. A reception was planned at the White House of Confederacy.
— Mike Valerio (@MikeNBC12) July 15, 2015
The Sons of Confederate Veterans commemorates Confederate history and was recently at the center of controversy in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina shootings for its support and pride for the Confederacy and the Confederate flag.
In one of their most recent attempts to protect Confederate symbols, the group said that it would go to court in order to keep the Confederate flag on Virginia license plates. Last month, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had moved to have the flag taken off the state’s license plates and called the flag’s image divisive.