|Member of the Bedford Grays at the parade.|
|Police confront parade crashers.|
The small protest basically attempted to disrupt a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the so-called "Prince of Peace," and draw attention to the Confederate battle flag and "gun rights."Downtown Roanoke Inc., which organizes the parade, changed the rules for this year, allowing only two historical commemoration groups to participate, one of them the Vikings of the Roanoke Valley. It was part of an effort to shorten the sometimes 2.5 hour parade to 1.5 hours.
These same men attached themselves to another Civil War celebration group last year, yelling "gun rights" slogans and trashing "liberals" and the "liberal media," among other things. The group of three horsemen was separated from the main parade by Roanoke City Police, who explained that there was nothing they could do about these men riding their horses down Jefferson Street, detached from the parade. the police group shadowed the protesters until they broke up.
According to reports, the small, loud group also appeared before the parade began (my friend, Susan, and I were in the Market Building having a bite, waiting for the parade to begin).
The men shouted and even received some cheers from the considerably thinned crowd after the parade ended. Most of those there for the parade had either gone home or were on City Market celebrating a Dickens of a Christmas.
|Crashers on Jefferson Street.|
I will mention that I did not directly approach these men because they sounded angry and confrontational and they could well have been armed. They shouted several times about their right to carry firearms. I thought it the better part of valor to simply record what they were doing and let the police deal with any residual effect.
Police on bicycles confronted the men as they attempted to enter the parade and stayed with them until they broke up on Campbell Avenue, about 15 minutes later, after the parade had completely disbanded.
(I will also apologize for the poor quality of these photos, which were shot at 3200 ASA, wide open. The center of the city is poorly lit and I didn't have a sufficient flash with me to properly light the photos.)
|Crashers at the end of the parade on Campbell Ave.|
|Police shadow protesters on Campbell Avenue.|
|Protesters wave their flags.|