Some motorists drove by and hollered in support. Others gave him the finger.
Local resident Brian Judd said such reactions are to be expected if he’s going to stand by the road with a Confederate flag – a sudden symbol of divisiveness.
“This flag is not about hate. It’s about heritage,” said Judd while standing in front of the car wash in Mt. Leo on Friday. “A lot of people have pulled in and told me I’m doing the right thing. Others have argued with me and I’ve had some flip me off. People are entitled to their own opinion, but most of them have been supportive. There have been a lot of people honking and a few rebel yells. I’ve had some people bring me water and one lady brought me a Powerade.”
Judd said he had a similar response Thursday when he stood in front of Burger King on Sparta Street and Foodland Plus on Smithville Highway. He said he was drawn to take action after reading what he said was a bunch of misleading information about the Confederate flag on Facebook. Judd says he has an ancestor who served for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
“If people would do their history, they would learn the Civil War was about state’s rights, not slavery,” said Judd. “People are so quick to label something the wrong way.”
While state’s rights were a major point of the Civil War, there’s no denying slavery was also a central issue.
Lisa Bennett joined Judd in displaying the Confederate flag. She said she doesn’t view the flag as being offensive.
“It’s not racial. It’s a flag of heritage and history,” said Bennett.
Everette Marsh was one of the motorists who stopped by to talk to Judd on Friday. He offered to buy the Confederate flag he was waving for $20, but Judd declined the offer.
Marsh said the Confederate flag is being unfairly linked to violence in South Carolina where a white gunman killed nine people inside a black church. The gunman, now charged with nine murders, was photographed posing with the Confederate flag before his rampage.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with those killings,” said Marsh. “A flag didn’t kill those nine people.”
President Obama weighed in heavily on the issue Friday while speaking at the funeral of one of the nine killed, that being slain paster Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Obama praised South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for asking lawmakers on Monday to bring down the flag outside South Carolina’s Statehouse. Other politicians came out later in the week saying historic but divisive symbols no longer deserve places of honor.
“It’s true a flag did not cause these murders,” Obama said. “But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge, including, Gov. Haley whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness. It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong.”
Judd said he planned to carry out further Confederate flag demonstrations over the weekend.