Local News

Confederate flag backers rally in Rocky Mount

Posted June 29, 2015 1:40 p.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2015 6:00 p.m. EDT

— A convoy of cars and trucks carrying Confederate battle flags paraded through parts of Nash County over the weekend as people expressed support for the embattled banner.

Twenty to 30 vehicles with flags waving in the breeze paraded up U.S. Highway 64 Business from Rocky Mount to Nashville and back on Saturday in the "Confederate Battle Flag Truck Run," Jay Moss, who participated in the event, said Monday.

"We had people coming up to us honking horns, holding their hands up in support, and then we had those people that gave us a disgusting look. It's their opinion," Moss said.

Rocky Mount police said no incidents were reported in connection with the rally.

"I'm looking at it (as), back when the Confederacy happened and the Revolutionary War occurred, people died under that (Confederate) flag, the same as American soldiers died under our flag," Moss said. "I believe, if you take down that flag, that's a disgrace to the soldiers who passed away under that flag."

The rally followed a week in which governors in South Carolina and Alabama said they wanted the flag removed from the capitol grounds in their states, Mississippi lawmakers suggested removing the battle flag image from their state flag and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory called for an end to state license plates bearing the flag image.

Major retailers from Amazon to Walmart to Sears also said they would no longer sell items with the flag's image.

A June 17 shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine people attending a Bible study class prompted the national outcry over the Confederate battle flag. Online postings by the 21-year-old man charged in the shootings included white supremacist statements and photos of him with the flag and brandishing guns.

Andre Knight, president of the Rocky Mount branch of the NAACP, said the Confederate batle flag is a symbol of hate.

"I was embarrassed about it and really upset," Knight said of the rally. "That reminds us of the ugly history from which we come."

A rally organizer, who asked not to be named, said the event was purely a show of pride in Southern heritage and wasn't meant to incite any violence.

"The Confederate Battle Flag truck run was in support of the flag itself and it heritage. It had absolutely nothing to do with hate. It was completely about our heritage," the organizer said in an email to WRAL News. "We was taunted by folks who lack the knowledge of the true history on the Confederate Battle Flag. We are sorry to the folks that it offended, as it was not our intentions.

"As our heritage is under attack and its history is being throwed in the gutter. I feel that it should be known that it's not a hate flag and it wasn't displayed as such," he continued. "It's time for Southern Americans to stand up for our heritage and not allow the public to turn it into something it's not. Once again, it's not about hate. We are not a hate group, and we do not support any kind of hate group what so ever. We are just good hearted Southern Americans standing up for our heritage. It's completely about our heritage."

Moss said another pro-flag event is being planned.