Backlash bubbles as Confederate symbols are removed across the South

As Americans come together to celebrate the birth of the nation, another chapter in America’s history has continued to divide its citizens.

The removal of  Confederate statues and symbols from government grounds has sparked clashes between those who are offended by what the monuments represent and others who defend them as part of America’s heritage.

Tensions rose again last weekend as a group of these defenders headed to Gettysburg, Pa. to confront anti-Confederate protests, Fox News reported.

Rumors of violence and protests at Gettysburg National Park for 154th anniversary of the Civil War battle, turned out to be unfounded as no major incidents were reported and clashes between the two sides never materialized.

“We heard they were going to deface the monuments,” James Bibb told Fox News.  “I have six known ancestors that fought in this war. I’m here to defend the monuments.”

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A Maryland woman who takes photos for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said it makes her “a little angry” when people blame Confederate symbols for promoting racism. “It makes me want to cry,” Pat Roller of Pasadena told Fox News.  “I have ancestry on both sides.”

The removal across the South of several statues of Confederate generals has continued the often heated debate on what the monuments symbolize to different people.

“I don’t want my kids to think this is normal or that these men are heroes,” Dana Simpson told Fox News.

“There are people in my immediate family who are fierce supporters of the flag. It’s a tough and emotional issue for everyone,” the mother of three who lives outside of Atlanta, said. “Hell, my husband was for it too… but the tide’s turning.”

The push to remove Confederate symbols gained momentum after the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, S.C. when 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine people gathered for a Bible study in a historically black church. Since then, about 60 Confederate symbols have been removed from government grounds according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The city of St. Louis, Mo. recently removed a 32-foot-tall granite column with a Confederate bronze sculpture and in April, New Orleans began the nighttime removal of several statues, setting off protests and requiring a heavy police presence at the sites.

“These statues are not just stone and metal,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said following the removal of the last Confederate statue. “They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.”

Hanceville, Ala., Mayor Kenneth Nail, reached out to Landrieu to see if he would donate the monuments to the Veterans Memorial Park in Hanceville but had not gotten a response. Nail does not agree with the uproar on the symbols, arguing that they do not represent oppression.

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“To us, it’s not a hate thing,” Nail told The Cullman Times.  “It’s a heritage thing and what we like to do is celebrate everyone’s struggles: the blacks, the whites, the north and south.”

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