This story has been updated:
*According to The Department of General Services in an email to RVA Mag, the permit request mentioned in this article has not yet been approved and is currently under-review.
Right on the heels of the chaos caused by the ‘Unite The Right’ rally in Charlottesville, the Virginia Flaggers have seemingly announced a rally of their own to protect Confederate monuments on September 16, 2017.
On their official blog site they announced, “Our friends at Save Southern Heritage have obtained a permit from the Capitol Police for a rally at the LEE Monument on Monument Avenue in Richmond for Saturday, September 16 at NOON. We will be supporting their efforts and need a HUGE showing of patriotic Southerners to make a statement to Mayor Stoney, the commission, and the entire city of Richmond.”
Mayor Stoney announced a commission in June to study how to best handle the controversies surrounding statues glorifying the Confederacy on Monument Avenue. While the first public meeting of Stoney’s commission this past week was a discordant affair, the city has made an effort to remain transparent about the proceedings.
However, according to the Virginia Flaggers, “…the Mayor regurgitated the false narrative as has been circulated by groups such as the ANTIFA anarchists, SPLC, and NAACP, and that which was used by the liberals in Charlottesville in their crusade to destroy the Confederate monuments there.” They followed with, “The Va Flaggers are steadfastly opposed to the addition of ANY context to ANY of our Confederate monuments or memorials and will use all available resources to prevent it from happening.”
This is in stark contrast to the majority of people in Richmond who would like, at a minimum, to see some context added to the Confederate narrative on Monument Avenue.
The Virginia Flaggers were founded by Susan Hathaway in 2011 after the removal of a Confederate flag in front of the Confederate Memorial Chapel in the city. The property is now owned and operated by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). According to the Flaggers, the Confederate battle flag “ought to be celebrated.” Yet it was only a matter of time before they took up the cause of the Richmond Confederate monuments.
Richmond is ground-zero for the debate over Confederate symbols, given its historical relevance. And as witnessed during this weekend’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, these rallies have ended up as a front for white nationalist, supremacist, and alt-right groups looking to project their messaging through claims of ‘heritage’. The terrorist incident at yesterday’s counter-protest in Charlottesville by a white supremacist who drove his car into a group people, killing one and wounding up to 19 has proven just how contentious this debate has become.
News of a rally like this couldn’t come at a worse time for the city of Richmond. More so since the Virginia Flaggers are claiming, “The Capital of the Confederacy is shaping up to be the next battle ground. We fully expect victory, but will need your help to make it happen.”
*Matthew Sporn and Landon Shroder contributed to this story.