'Heritage or hate?' Counter-protesters outnumber Lee statue supporters at rally

'Heritage or hate?' Counter-protesters outnumber Lee statue supporters at rally

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the shadow of the Lee monument, a war of the words broke out between the statue's supporters - who say they stand for heritage, not hate - and counter-protesters, who argue the statue represents a hateful heritage.

"I don't want to erase my history, and I don't want to erase anyone else's history," said Richmond resident Joe Powers.

"I don't feel the need to valorize that cause that was based on slavery and racism," said Kat Tracy, also from Richmond.

While the event started with several heated exchanges, the morning was mostly peaceful. About a half dozen members of the "New Confederate States of America," the Tennessee group who organized the event, were met by hundreds of counter-protesters who walked from the Maggie Walker statue armed with signs and white roses.

"I like it. I like how unified we all are and how few they are. It seems like there are more of us than there are of them," said counter-protester Luna Brown.

As the crowd grew, police in riot gear made the decision to escort the Confederate supporters from the statue for their safety.

The shouting and chanting at the monument was replaced with peaceful dialogue - like between Richard Mason and Robert Kilpatrick, who stand on opposing side of the statue debate.

"I was open to listen to him, and he was open to listening to me. It's not a point of him being right or me being wrong. The point was we had an open dialogue," said Mason.

"It's a beautiful day. There's no reason to have any hostility like in Charlottesville, and thankfully that's not happening here," Kilpatrick said.

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