On Saturday, hundreds upon hundreds of people from Georgia arrived at Stone Mountain, the nation’s largest Confederate memorial, to show their support for the Confederate flag.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that some of the attendees were armed: they tweeted a photo of one attendee openly carrying an AR-15 style rifle as he walked around.
One of the rally organizers was a black man from Cartersville named Thomas Jewell.
Jewell said he rallies to the flag because it represents his “Southern heritage.” He said he knows some people have misrepresented the flag — attaching movements and meanings to it that don’t belong — but he added, “If you look a little deeper, you’ll find out what it was all about. The flag was never meant to be racist. It’s a heritage thing. It’s a Southern thing.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the thrust of the rally as “heritage, not hate.” They cite attendance by men like Billy Armistead of Covington, who said he came to the rally “to honor the memory of his relative Lewis A. Armistead, who fought for the Confederate States of America in the Civil War.” Cartersville’s Joel Colston said, “It’s not about hate. People are trying to take our flag away from us and that’s not right. We’re trying to do something about it.”
Jimmy Creek is a rally organizer from Monticello, and he said it is important that people understand it is an action for something, not against.
Creek said, “We do rallies, not protests. We just do it peacefully. We don’t want trouble, but we’ll back each other up [if there is].”
The Facebook announcement for the rally sets for rules of conduct for participants:
1.) NO racial slurs or offensive remarks
2.) NO alcohol, we do know its illegal and that will be opportunity for tickets/arrests
3.) NO taunting other vehicles, flipping other people off during the ride
4.) NO burning any flags of any type regardless of which flag
5.) STAY peaceful, which means NO violence
Remember there will be people everywhere! Possibly media and cameras, ONE piece of negativity and that will be what goes Viral and that is what we will be remembered for. This is to show our support BC we care about where we live and grew up, lets keep this Clean and Peaceful! Absolutely ZERO tolerance on these rules, if you don’t think you can follow don’t show up. There will be plenty others there who can follow the rules. See y’all there, thank you and God Bless!
The Facebook announcement shows the rally is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
It is interesting to note that the location for this rally. Stone Mountain itself has been targeted in the anti-Confederate hysteria that began sweeping the certain parts of the country following the attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June. Stone Mountain hosts “the largest high relief sculpture in the world,” depicting Confederate President Jefferson Davis, along with Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Atlanta’s WSBTV reports that the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP wants the sculpture removed.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.