MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The stars and bars on the Confederate flag are, well, barred from a popular holiday parade in Hanover County next month, prompting push back from a pro-Confederate group, but praise from others.
Seen in black, white and red font, the rules for the Mechanicsville holiday parade hosted by the Rotary Club reads “There will be no displays of confederate flags or emblems.”
This is a moment to celebrate for the local NAACP chapter. The Virginia Flaggers, however, call the decision “woke.”
The last time the Confederate flag flew above the parade route was in 2019; pandemic-related cancellations nixed the event last year.
However, their return is effectively banned when parade participants march on Dec. 5.
The decision does not sit well with Grayson Jennings of the ‘Flaggers,’ among participants in parades past.
“We are well-embraced by the entire community except for a few, and these woke officials in the rotary,” he told WFXR’s sister station, WRIC.
A tweet published on the Virginia Flaggers Twitter account shows a meme entitled ‘NO FLAGS for YOU,” featuring sad children and Dr. Seuss character The Grinch with a bag of battle flags.
WFXR’s sister station asked the Mechanicsville Rotary Club for an interview, but they declined, saying in a statement, “Unfortunately we are not entertaining any discussions concerning this topic.“
Among those who support the decision is Hanover NAACP chapter president Pat Jordan.
According to Jordan, “this is Thanksgiving season, and to be grateful that people have come to the realization that that flag is divisive in our community.”
Sister station WRIC sought further comment from area residents.
Outside a retail store along Mechanicsville Turnpike Tuesday night, across from Mechanicsville High School — recently renamed from ‘Lee-Davis’ High School — three men disagreed with the Confederate flag ban. One called it “ridiculous,” another said it is like stripping away “heritage.” Notably, no one wanted to speak on camera.
As for the Virginia Flaggers, they decided not to participate in this year’s parade, adding “with no explanations offered, we are left to assume that the rotary has been taken over by liberals who are taking their cues from the Hanover County school board.”
The statement is a direct reference to the county school name changes at the high school and at Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
If you’re asking, “is this legal? Does the flag ban strip people of their First Amendment rights?”
Legal analyst Russ Stone for WFXR’s sister station said it appears parade applicants have to agree to the terms of the Rotary Club rules, and could ask violators to leave.
According to Stone, “when it comes to the First Amendment it protects you from government infringing speech, not the Ruritan Club.”
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