Cellphone video footage from a weekend encounter between a pro-Confederate flag group and those attending a black child’s birthday party in Georgia show the incident is not the clear-cut case of racism it first appeared to be, with authorities saying both sides claim to be the victim.
Melissa Alford, who said she lived at the house where the party was being held, claims men in a convoy of Confederate flag-bearing trucks were armed and threatened partygoers using racial slurs.
Levi Bush, who was driving one of the trucks, said the encounter was actually triggered by people at the party who threw rocks at the convoy as it drove past from an unrelated event, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Officers on scene were given conflicting statements as to what led up to the confrontation,” the Douglasville, Georgia, Police Department told the Journal-Constitution.
One passenger of the convoy was arrested on unrelated charges, and authorities said they are still investigating the videos to see if anything criminal occurred.
In one of the videos, the convoy can be seen on a grassy area near the birthday party, and one of the convoy members can be heard using a racial slur. Alford told the Journal-Constitution that wasn’t the worst of the Saturday incident.
“One had a gun, saying he was gonna kill the n——,” Alford told the paper. “Then one of them said, ‘gimme the gun, I’ll shoot them n——.’”
She wrote on Facebook that since the incident, she hasn’t felt safe in her own home.
“I’m too scared to go to sleep because these guys still have the gun in their possession,” she said.
The other video shows police officers holding back a group of agitated black men and women yelling at the trucks as they drove away from the area.
According to Bush – who was leading the convoy – the entire encounter was unplanned, saying his group sells American, Confederate, and military flags to raise money for veterans’ causes. It is not a hateful organization, he said.
The convoy was leaving a nearby event when the partygoers began throwing rocks at the vehicles and yelling at the group, according to Bush.
“Basically, about eight of us had to hold 15 to 20 of them back,” Bush told the Journal-Constitution, adding that the convoy only pulled over because he got a flat tire while trying to avoid the angry group.
He said it was “likely” someone in his group used a racial slur while tensions were running high.