About one week after the nationwide coverage of the Neo-Nazi Rally in Charlottesville – where one protestor was killed – Hot Springs allowed a Confederate Flag rally to go on as scheduled. The streets and air were filled with police and park rangers due to the heightened tension and rumored reports of klansmen being bussed in from various parts of the state. However, when I arrived there were approximately 15-25 confederate flag supporters who informed me they have this rally monthly and intended “no harm.” It was dumfounding to hear their lack of connection between their “beloved” flag to what it represents to the majority of the world – oppression, slavery, violence, rape, kidnappings and so on. I watched as they had a kind conversation with an African American female photographer who willingly accepted their handshakes and words. As I walked down to the counter protest site with the other photographer, we spotted plainly dressed klansmen handing out flyers down the street but not participating in the actual rally.
ANTIFA was represented as well as others that came on their own, in pairs, or larger groups to unite against a symbol of hate. Carrying signs and chanting they marched up and down the sidewalk.
Thankfully the day ended without any physical violence, though the public display of adoration for this flag had to traumatize and deepen the scars within so many walking and driving by.
I left proud of the counter protestors – my bias is obvious – and sad for the men and women who seemed ignorant and/or unwilling to acknowledge the history of our country and of this flag.
Below are a few shots of the “parade” and counter march. (B/W Film)
All photos © Rachel B. Hale