South Florida

Confederate Flag Rally in Sunrise Draws Supporters, Protestors

Dozens of Confederate flag supporters gathered at Markham Park in Sunrise on Sunday, but the event also drew a large number of anti-flag protesters.

A large police presence was felt at the rally, which began at Heritage Park in Plantation then culminated with a 15 mile drive to Markham Park with dozens of cars proudly waving the flag.

Supporters claim the rally is all about southern pride and the right to keep the flag flying.

"Not against nothing, (we) just like what we are," said supporter Steven Wingett. "We're hated on because of who we are and back in the day, a lot of people did a lot of wrong things with our flag. People don't understand that it's not a part of the KKK it's not a part of anything else, it's our heritage."

Others disagree, and say that the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and hatred.

"The Confederate flag, after the Civil War, was not widely flown until the 50s and 60s in response to the civil rights movement," says Saint James who was among those protesting at the event. "Nowadays, what happened with Dylann Roof, most of their white supremacists, most of their racist people carry that flag as their banner."

Organizers claim the event was the largest gathering of its kind in South Florida. Police say the event was mainly peaceful, however protesters claim that participants were shouting racial slurs at them, while participants claim protesters were beating on their cars.

No arrests were made on either side.

Decades-long protests against the flag came to a head after the massacre of nine people inside a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina in June.

Police said the shootings inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were racially motivated. By posing with the Confederate flag before the shootings, 21-year-old suspect Dylann Roof, who was later indicted on federal hate crime charges, re-ignited a debate over the flag's history as a symbol of white superiority and racial oppression.

In an historic move, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley ordered the removal of the Confederate flag in July from a flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse, where it had flown for more than five decades.

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