Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with Confederate flag supporters at a Florida rally on Sunday, with flag backers allegedly brandishing weapons as the confrontation became heated, according to one protester.
Several hundred people paraded the Confederate flag from pickup trucks and motorcycles on a 15-mile road rally in Plantation, Florida. Police intervened to keep about 40 Black Lives Matter protesters from blocking an exit, allowing the rally to proceed, the Sun Sentinel reported.
At the rally’s final destination, the two groups briefly attempted to talk about heritage and racism, which ended abruptly when Confederate flag supporters waved a gun and a knife, a protester claimed. Police at the event said there were no reports of weapons, and that the event was “peaceful.”
In video of the event posted online, Black Lives Matter protesters shouted “fuck your flag” as backers waved Confederate flags from behind a police line erected to separate the groups.
“We love the flag, but we don’t love racism, we don’t love slavery,” Chris Nicolaus, one of the Confederate flag rally organizers, told WSVN. “We just stand for Southern heritage.”
The Confederate flag became a flashpoint after suspect Dylann Roof allegedly opened fire in a predominantly black Charleston church, killing nine, including state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Roof’s fondness for Confederate symbols has been well-documented since the shooting, spurring a national call to banish the flag from public spaces, including from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.