GRAHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Banners hanging from streetlights in downtown Graham tell visitors the city preserves its heritage while promoting its future.
Longtime residents say that's why they're fighting for the future of an iconic statue of a Civil War soldier near the steps of the Alamance County courthouse. That's why they're holding a pro-Confederate rally on Saturday that's expected to draw hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
"I've lived in Alamance County my entire life. I don't want to see the monument go," said James Myrick. "It's put here in memory of fallen soldiers. I can't stand to see it go."
Myrick started an online petition called "Alamance County Taking Alamance County back" in response to another citizen group calling for the removal of the Confederate symbol. Nearly 6,000 people have signed the online petition and another 1,500 have said they'll attend the rally. Myrick plans to hand deliver the signatures to the county commissioners at their meeting Monday night.
The response on social media forced organizers to reapply for a permit allowing for 2,000 to 4,000 demonstrators.
"This is an unprecedented event in Graham," said Capt. Steve McGilvray, adding that the police department doesn't anticipate thousands of people converging on downtown Graham.
The department is calling in reinforcements, including the North Carolina Highway Patrol. There are no permits for a counter protest.
"We don't mind people being emotionally charged, but we don't want those emotions to affect their judgment," said McGilvray. "We hope they can maintain a good sense of common sense and maintain a peaceful demonstration."
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Pro-Confederate rally could draw 'thousands' in Alamance County