Confederate flag support crosses racial, cultural boundaries - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Confederate flag support crosses racial, cultural boundaries

"To me, it represents everything but racism. Just because it’s what they used it for in the past doesn't mean that’s still what it means still to this day," said James Hartfield of Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX) "To me, it represents everything but racism. Just because it’s what they used it for in the past doesn't mean that’s still what it means still to this day," said James Hartfield of Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX)
On Saturday, a group of about 75 Confederate flag supporters organized a flag ride demonstration that began in Ocean Springs and ended in Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX) On Saturday, a group of about 75 Confederate flag supporters organized a flag ride demonstration that began in Ocean Springs and ended in Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

One group from the Coast wanted to make sure the Fourth of July celebration included more than one symbol. It was a day for the American flag to be flown proudly. But others say the celebration should also include the Confederate battle flag, along with the Mississippi state flag.

On Saturday, the group of about 75 organized a flag ride demonstration that began in Ocean Springs and ended in Gulfport, where thousands had gathered to enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks demonstration.

"This issue raised its head several years ago," said protestor Shannan Blethen of Gulfport. "The people of the state of Mississippi has already voted for this flag. They voted to keep this flag. Are we going to do this every time we have a new mayor or a new congressman... a new governor? Or are we going to let the people that's already voted let it stand like it is?"

The debate over the Mississippi state flag, which is the only state flag to include the Confederate symbol, began after there were protests against the Confederate flag flying in South Carolina where nine black church members were murdered.

Saturday's flag ride demonstration began with a Facebook posting by Vancleave resident Cody Spears only a week ago.

"A lot of people this is hate and racist," he said. "This ain’t hate and racist. This is heritage and history."

But this group is showing that support for the flag has crossed racial boundaries. James Hartfield, who is black, drives his pickup with both the American and Confederate flags.

"They all bleed the same colors, they all show the same colors," he said. "To me, it represents everything but racism. Just because it’s what they used it for in the past doesn't mean that’s still what it means still to this day."

 The event attracted some just visiting the Coast.

"The flag should not be taken down," said Tyrone Thomas Yazzie of Texas. "We’re all here together. As a Native American, where I come from, we stick together."

Added Hartfield: "I know what this flag is. I know what it stands for. I know the culture behind it. It’s not a bad flag."

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