Last week, a group known as "The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality" announced that they would hold a press conference at the Jefferson Davis Monument in Richmond, on the opening day of the UCI Bike Races, easily the largest athletic event our city has ever hosted.
"We want to tell the world that Richmonders do not support showcasing these monuments of Confederate military and political leaders during this world-famous sports event," said Ana Edwards, who chairs the Defenders' Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project. "At a time when cities across the South are removing these symbols of the oppression of Black people, it's an embarrassment that our city, the former capital of the Confederacy, would choose to highlight these statues to a world audience."
The Virginia Flaggers were asked by the local media to give a response to this planned press conference and we issued the following statement:
The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality is an extremist group who failed at their attempts to have the UCI bike races rerouted away from the Confederate Monuments that line Monument Avenue, where tourists from the Commonwealth, the United States, and around the globe visit just to view and admire the stately monuments and memorials to our Confederate Heroes.
This group, like so many others around the country is attempting to exploit an unrelated tragedy in South Carolina as an excuse to cast aspersion on our Confederate Veterans and force their lopsided, uneducated, politically correct view of history on all of Richmond's citizens. Recent polls have shown that the majority of the citizens of the Commonwealth, including the Governor, do not want to see any of our Veterans' monuments or memorials disturbed or removed.
This press conference is an obvious ploy to get publicity and disrupt the planned activities this weekend. At a time when the citizens of Richmond should be uniting and putting our best foot forward to welcome so many to our great city, this group has decided to use the platform to further divide us and stir up trouble where none exists.
As the proud descendants of the Confederate soldiers who bravely fought to defend the Commonwealth, we will not sit by quietly and allow the attempted destruction of our history to continue. The Va Flaggers have coordinated patrols of the city's monuments each night since June 26, when one of our folks surprised a vandal in the act of defacing the Jefferson Davis Monument. Thanks to information they were able to provide, and evidence left at the scene, the perpetrator was subsequently arrested and convicted.
Since that time, over four dozen volunteers, including a father-son duo from Pennsylvania, and a couple who traveled all the way from Chicago, Illinois, have stepped up to serve as Monument Guards. We will continue to patrol the monuments as long as there is any threat of vandalism, and are ready and willing to meet any and all calls for removal of these priceless treasures with the same fortitude, determination and perseverance shown by our ancestors some 150 years ago.
Yesterday, about a dozen protesters gathered near the Jefferson Davis Monument.
"We are here today to tell the world that most Richmonders do not support showcasing these monuments to Confederate military and political leaders during this world famous sporting event," Edwards said. (From WTVR 6 Report)
She went on to say that the "shooting in Charleston indicates our work is not done"...called on Richmonders to "Honor black history, not Confederate shrines"...and insisted that "many are calling for removal of [statues]"
In planning our counter to this coming protest, and considering the bike races which would draw thousands to the area, we decided to hire a banner plane to carry our message. Contrary to some reports in the media, we never had any intention of attending the "Defenders of Justice and Equality" Press conference (at least not on the ground)...and the suggestion that the possibility of our presence lead to additional police presence is laughable, considering we have been protesting in Richmond twice a week, for four years, without incident.
Instead, and without us even having to be present, a small plane with a huge Battle Flag and the message "CONFEDERATE HEROES MATTER" buzzed the protesters, race participants and spectators, and citizens in Richmond and surrounding counties.
Almost as soon as the plane took off from a local airport, we started receiving phone calls, texts, and messages about sightings in New Kent, Hanover, Henrico, and Richmond. Twitter and FB exploded with reports of a huge Confederate Flag in the air in Richmond...and about an hour into the flight, we got word that the pilot had transposed our message, and misspelled the word "HEROES".
Despite the unfortunate "typo" on the part of the pilot, the banner plane was a phenomenal success, circling downtown for two hours with a huge Battle Flag and a message that was perfectly clear, seen by thousands (including those gathered to protest our monuments) and, judging from the firestorm created on social media, obviously served to cause quite a few Anti-Confederate haters' heads to explode on (visual) contact.
The topic of conversation at the press conference, in the media, and on social media throughout the afternoon changed from removing monuments...to the appearance of the Confederate Air Force at the bike races in Richmond...
Meanwhile, across town, our folks were enjoying the day at the Field Day of the Past. Our booth was busy all day, with hundreds of people stopping by to show their support and pick up Confederate flags, t-shirts, and stickers. We gave away over 1,000 stickers in the first two days, and were thrilled with the attendance and positive response.
Huge crowds, beautiful weather, selling out of flags, and overwhelming support.
But this story is the highlight of the afternoon..
But this story is the highlight of the afternoon..
These gentleman approached our table. They told us that they had written reports on Karen and her defense of Confederate Heritage for a school assignment. They were thrilled to meet her in person, and we were honored to chat with them. Karen signed a copy of "Give This Book To A Yankee", a book folks at Sea Raven Press, by which includes her forward, and we presented it to them.
The future of the South is in good hands with young men like these.
By the way...they both got A's.
We leave you with this brief video clip of the banner plane as it buzzed the press conference.Â Might be the best 15 seconds you spend today. Â :)
God bless all those who worked so hard to make yesterday such a HUGE Confederate success, those who helped fund the banner plane ...and GOD SAVE THE SOUTH!
The Virginia Flaggers
Defender's Images from Facebook