Protesters flew the Confederate flag across the street from where President Barack Obama was set to speak on July 1, claiming “Southern heritage" and not hate.
Obama spoke on July 1 at Taylor Stratton Elementary School in Madison, Tennessee, while protester Rick Martin stood across the street in support of the “Stars and Bars” Confederate flag. The flag has been the subject of intense debate following the racially motivated shooting of nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.
Martin said he drove two hours to protest next to the school, adding that his intention was not to protest the president. Rather, he said, he wanted to send the message that the flag was about heritage and history as opposed to race.
“Black people and white people fought under this flag,” he said. Martin told reporters that he’d be willing to meet Obama and discuss the issue with him personally.
“It would be my pleasure to meet the president of the United States,” Martin told The Tennessean. “I served under him in the Marine Corps."
Other demonstrators who protested alongside Martin echoed his statement, saying they simply want people to know that the flag represented Southern history.
“We just want him to understand that this is heritage, that there is not any bit of hate coming from these flags. We can't be held accountable for one man making that mistake and shooting up that church,” one demonstrator told WSMV.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via WSMV