SALT LAKE CITY — A crowd of self-described ‘Salt Lake Confederates’ cruised the streets of Salt Lake City bearing the Confederate Flag and other banners Saturday, and they made their way to the stairs of the State Capitol for a rally in support of the controversial battle standard.
According to an email from event organizers, the rally was put together by a group on social media called “The Salt Lake Confederates”, and the cruise and rally was to show support of the “confederate/rebel flag.”
The group planned to cruise from Sandy to downtown via State Street, and photos from the event show several trucks and participants along the route as well as at the State Capitol.
Event organizers described the rally as a peaceful movement aimed at supporting the history of the flag. A man who spoke during the rally, who identified himself only as Bryan, spoke ot FOX 13 News about the group’s purpose.
“Basically just to say we support the Confederate Flag, we support the American Flag, we support America,” he said. “This is not about racism. This is not about hate. We’re just tired of all the political corruptness that we have to go through in this country. We’re also here to say that we support the families and the victims of Charleston, of the reporters in Virginia, of everything that’s going on. That we’re just proud Americans. We’re patriots, and we’re just out here to support our country.”
Bryan said many in attendance are friends, and they spread the word of the rally on social media to increase the size of the rally. He and others who spoke to FOX 13 News declined to provide their full names, saying they feared potential repercussions for their involvement.
“There’s people all across the country who are losing their jobs for coming out and, you know, supporting the flag, and it’s… while we are here to support: We also need to be realistic, and it’s not worth getting fired over, and going through all the trouble that we’d have to fight, you know, for the First Amendment. It’s happening all across the country.”
Bryan said he is a southerner and “doesn’t hate anybody” and that they came to the State Capitol to hold their rally because it is a symbol of democracy.
The Confederate Battle Flag has been at the center of a resurgence of mainstream controversy in recent months, as the flag was removed from the Capitol grounds in South Carolina in response to criticism that drew strength in the wake of the fatal shooting at a church in Charleston, where Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine people in a racially motivated attack. Soon after Roof was arrested, photos surfaced of the man holding a pistol and the Confederate battle flag, which he reportedly revered as a white supremacist symbol.