Confederate rally organizer speaks out about growing concerns
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Confederate group says the plans for the controversial rally this weekend at the Lee Monument are moving forward.
The event is happening despite the governor's ban on demonstrations on state property and community concern is growing as counter protests are organizing.
The New Confederate States of America is based out Tennessee and teamed up with another coordinator out of Florida, Tara Brandau. Brandau says she's the commander of the Florida 3 Percent Security Force.
She says they want this rally to be non-violent and will even shut it down if tensions start to rise. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the 3-percenters as an extreme anti government group.
"I do stand up for the Confederacy, but I also do Back The Blue rallies to for our officers, our first responders. I also do Trump rallies," she said.
Brandau says pro-Confederate Virginians reached out to them about preserving the monuments, and they decided to hold the rally.
"Everybody is welcome to come to the rally that is not racist, that does not have that hate or terrorism in their blood," she said. "I denounce KKK, League of the South, white supremacy, Black Lives Matter, Black Panthers, ANTIFA. I denounce all of them."
Brandau claims she's held other rallies where there were civil conversations with opposing groups. She says she has even helped law enforcement track down some of the white supremacists accused of violence in Charlottesville. This would be her first rally, however, it is taking place after the violence in Charlottesville.
She says they want to educate people.
"They're actually known as U.S. veterans, and I stand up for all my veterans whether they're American or Confederate," said Brandau. "That is the whole reason why we're doing this. We want to teach people not everybody is racist that has that flag. They (the white supremacists) pretty much hijacked our flag is what I call it."
What if white supremacist groups do show up?
"Everybody has the right to Freedom of Speech, but they're not going to be standing with us," she said. "We will not allow them to infiltrate us. It's not allowed."
What about participants carrying firearms?
"That's their decision," she said. "We have not encouraged anybody to bring any weapons. The leaders of this will have some. The police officers know, but it's so that our people are safe."
Brandau says they are working with Richmond police and plan to meet with them on Friday.
The Virginia Division of Sons of the Confederate Veterans says they do not know who this Confederate group is, and they're encouraging their members not to come this Saturday.
"Outside agitators are coming to Richmond to cause more trouble similar to what they did in Charlottesville last month. We expect the city and state
police to handle whatever may occur. We prefer to seek redress in the courts, the General Assembly and at the ballot box," the group said in a release.
Wednesday night, a group of people sat on the steps of the Jefferson Davis Monument holding signs that said "Preserve Monument Avenue," and say they just want to educate the public about the history behind the monuments.
"We should learn about this history, and we can learn about the history of it, " said Barry Isenhour with the Virginia Flaggers. "
I would like to stay out of the politics of it, I look at this as a veterans monument, which it is."
Isenhour and the group he sat with, say they don't plan to go to the rally and don't think others should go either.
"Anyone on the southern heritage movement, showing up at these monuments is not a good idea, that's not a good thing to do."
Isenhour says he agrees with Chief Alfred Durham, who sent a letter Tuesday to residents and business owners asking them to avoid the area of the Lee Monument Saturday, and RPD says they are planning for whatever may happen at the rally.
"There's no reason to come out here," said Isenhour.
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