Thousands of people attended a rally in Ocala, Florida, on Sunday to show their support for the Confederate flag following a nationwide debate over what it represents.
An estimated 2,000 vehicles, mostly motorcycles and trucks, were seen at the rally adorned with Confederate flags and at a 17-mile parade in support of their county’s decision to continue flying the stars and bars outside of a government complex, WESH News reports.
The parade was dubbed the "Florida Southern Pride Ride."
“This is my flag,” attendee Bryan Williams told WFTV. “It just means this is the South flag. Nothing against anybody. That’s just what I was raised under. I carry it with me all the time.”
The flag, according to African-American attendee and Ocala resident Dwayne Webb, symbolizes “good living, respect, and honesty,” as opposed to a symbol of racism — which those opposed to the flag argued in the wake of the racially-motivated killing of nine African Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month.
“It’s a positive movement,” Webb said.
The rally was not without counter-protests, however. Many gathered in opposition of the flag supporters, denouncing it and calling attention to its association with Charleston shooter Dylann Roof.
“What if your heritage is rooted in hate?” Tampa resident Laila Abdelaziz told WFTV of the often-used “heritage not hate” argument. “You have to confront that.”
Gun shots were heard shortly after the rally, according to WESH. Police reportedly searched for the person who fired the shots but were unsuccessful.
Photo Credit: nydailynews.com, WESH Screenshot