Friday, December 9, 2016

Confederate Group Crashes Christmas Party

Member of the Bedford Grays at the parade.
Police confront parade crashers.
A group called the Bedford Grays, apparently a part of a Civil War reenactment group, crashed the Roanoke Christmas Parade tonight after parade organizers took strong steps that diminished gun rights and Civil War groups' influence.

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.
The men on horseback, who at one point shouted over and over "Where's Dan Smith?" and "We Want Dan Smith" (I was right in front of them shooting photos). I have complained for two years about the appearance of the Confederate battle flag in the parade. The man shouting loudest and most consistently appeared to have been indulging in adult beverage through most of the evening.

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.

10 comments:

  1. All seems fine to me and a helluva lot of others that were there the last two years so maybe the problem with the flag is YOU

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  2. Nope, Dan is not the problem. Last year one of these over grown kids deliberately backed their horse into the crowd who showed their disapproval.

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  3. Well maybe journalists are the problem. After all, if America's crazy rednecks want to resurrect the Gothic South, people with cameras, backed by the First Amendment, are going to be in their way.

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    1. Bill: It's funny how those old boys saw me with my Leica and every time I pointed it, there was an outburst, an exaggerated movement, a near gallop. Booze is evil. I know that well. But I don't think we can blame all of this embarrassment on booze.

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  4. I represent responsible horsemenship and am dismayed our noble equines get a bad name thanks to these people. Marge Lewter, Back Country Horsemen of America, Eastern Divide chapter

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    1. I don't think anybody is blaming the horses, Marge. Shoot, they didn't even poop on the street Friday. The men who rode them were compared more to asses (donkeys) than horses (except for those who called the riders "horses' asses").

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  5. Aw, go to a Civil War battle re-enactment, preferably one the CSA won. There were more than enough. I'm proud of my Confederate heritage and I love the South (as I'm sure Dan does). I suggest paying homage in private and being respectful in public. The Civil War sesquicentennial ended last year. I'll never "forget," but it's over.

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    1. Thank you, Andrew. I'm with you on this.

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  6. Andrew: I have done that and what I generally found was a group of pot-bellied, middle-aged men pretending to be 17-year-old, raw-boned, totally uneducated farm boys, most of whom never even saw a slave, but were more than willing to give up their lives to protect the institution.

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  7. Dan: I hope you know my message was meant for these so-called "Bedford Grays." A Christmas parade in downtown Roanoke doesn't seem like the right place for such an exhibition. And I meant they should me considerate of others.

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