Thousands attend pro-Confederate rally in Alamance County

Saturday, July 18, 2015
Thousands attend Confederate rally
Thousands showed up to a pro-Confederate rally in Alamance County on Saturday

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Since the church shootings in Charleston, S.C. last month, there has been a national movement to take down Confederate flags and symbols.

On Saturday afternoon, a call to bring down one of those symbols in Graham sparked a retaliation rally which attracted thousands of supporters.

The rally gathered at the Alamance County Courthouse where the Common Soldier Statue has stood since 1914.

"It was erected as a symbol of love, love for the fathers, the sons, the husbands, the brothers that never came home," said one man to a cry of cheers from the crowd of about 4,000 people.

The thousands of supporters waved Confederate flags high, and some were even dressed as Civil War soldiers. Many in the crowd say recent calls to take down the statue in Graham, as well as other symbols of the Confederacy throughout the nation, have to stop.

"These soldiers fought for what they believed in and several were called to fight whether they believed or not," said supporter Tim Neese.

"Just because some folks chose to use things such as the battle flag of the Confederacy to do their evil," said supporter Michael Trollinger.

Trollinger argued that the actions of hate groups should not trample history.

"If people wanted to take down the street signs, Martin Luther King Boulevard or the statues or emblems of remembrance that we hold dear to us, I would be right out there standing for them to fight that injustice just like I'm here today for this one," said Trollinger.

In preparation for the large and very passionate crowd, Graham police pulled in extra resources from The State Highway Patrol. However, the two hour event remained peaceful.

At last check, an online petition in support of the statue had as many as 6,000 signatures. The man behind it, James Myrick, plans to deliver the petition to county commissioners at their Monday night meeting.

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