TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – A group of Confederate flag supporters from the Tampa Bay area are ready to rally for the stars and bars. They told News Channel 8 their beliefs are all about free speech.
Now, they plan to share their passion for this flag with others. “You can ban it. You can take it away, but at the end of day, you can’t take our belief away,” flag pride rally organizer William Pew said.
Pew is organizing the “Drive for Pride” rally for those who support the Confederate flag. He says his group wants to showcase First Amendment rights. The group is preparing to fly Confederate flags through the streets of the Tampa Bay area Friday night. “We have the pride to say what we want and believe in what we want,” Pew said.
The group said Facebook took down the original rally event page. So, the group relied on word-of-mouth invitations.
“This flag can symbolize something other than hatred. That’s what we’re really after is to really find that we can all live peacefully. We can all believe in what we want to believe in, but this flag needs to move past what it actually stood for,” he told News Channel 8.
On Friday night at 7 p.m. dozens of supporters are planning to decorate cars, trucks and bikes with the Confederate flag and drive bumper to bumper along State Road 60 from Brandon to Tampa. “There’s a lot of people who believe in this flag but because of controversy, they’re never going to tell you so that’s where this is coming up,” Pew said.
Civil rights activist Nadine Smith tells us she wishes the group would rethink this rally. “Driving around right with rebel flags at a moment right now where that flag is so completely soaked in blood is indefensible,” Smith said.
Smith is with Equality Florida. She said that while it is a person’s First Amendment right to display the Confederate flag on private property, she wishes this particular group would educate themselves on what she maintains that the flag really is. “They have rallied around a flag that was a symbol of intimidation, a symbol of slavery and remains a symbol of racism,” Smith said.