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Confederate flag, monument rally set for Saturday in Monroe

The 1910 Confederate monument stands outside the Old County Courthouse in downtown Monroe. Supporters of the monument and Confederate flag plan to hold a rally there on Saturday morning.
The 1910 Confederate monument stands outside the Old County Courthouse in downtown Monroe. Supporters of the monument and Confederate flag plan to hold a rally there on Saturday morning. abell@charlotteobserver.com

Another rally in support of the controversial Confederate flag is coming to the Charlotte area this weekend.

Monroe resident Rusty Secrest has received city and county approval to hold a rally at 9 a.m. Saturday in downtown Monroe at the Old County Courthouse in support of the flag and a Confederate monument on the grounds there.

Secrest said he is not affiliated with any particular group but wanted to hold the rally because “I was born and raised in Monroe. It’s part of my heritage. I’m tired of the flag and monument catching flak.”

A similar rally in Gastonia last month drew about 150 people. Some said the Confederate flag represents their heritage, not racism embodied by the suspect in the killing of nine black people in a Charleston church in June. The suspect was pictured with the Confederate battle flag, and that ultimately contributed to that flag being taken down from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse.

The flag and other symbols of the Confederacy remain a hot-button issue in North Carolina and around the South.

People protested in Raleigh this week against legislation Gov. Pat McCrory approved that prevents local officials from removing Confederate monuments without approval from the state.

And in Union County, commissioners approved a plan this month that could allow for the Confederate flag to fly on the grounds of the Old County Courthouse under certain circumstances. In June, the county confiscated small Confederate flags from around the base of the Confederate monument because no one had been given permission to put them there.

There has been no talk in Union County about removing the obelisk to “Our Confederate Soldiers,” which was unveiled on July 4, 1910, in the midst of the Jim Crow era. The Monroe monument, unlike some Confederate monuments in the Charlotte area, has not been defaced.

Secrest created a Facebook page for the event. Under a picture of the Confederate flag, he wrote: “This rally is to save our heritage and to show our support for the Confederate flag and Monuments. This is NOT A HATE RALLY.”

One of the people who left a comment on the page said, “It’s about time we as a proud white race stop feeling like we should be ashamed of being white! Is time we stand up for our heritage and show support.”

Secrest said he hopes up to 200 people attend. “We need some positive publicity...about the flag, the monument and everything.”

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell

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