Black Lives Matter Activists Burn Confederate Flag, Block Entrance to Rally Picnic | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Broward News

Black Lives Matter Activists Burn Confederate Flag, Block Entrance to Rally Picnic

On Sunday, Demetrius Vaughn walked past Plantation Heritage Park, where almost 200 Confederate flag supporters were meeting for a road rally. The 23-year-old was holding signs that read “God Hates Flags” and “Cops Kill.” He was headed to the Black Lives Matter counter-protest that was meeting nearby. That’s when, Vaughn says, he heard a man with a Confederate flag pinned to the back of his truck shout: “Dumb n***er.” Vaughn kept walking.

“They say they are displaying their Southern pride, but that flag has so much blood against my people,” Vaughn told New Times after he joined almost 40 activists. “It’s not right to come out where we stay and blatantly shove white supremacy, that flag, and all that hate in our face.”

At 12:30 p.m., Vaughn and the group marched to the entrance of Plantation Heritage Park, blocking the cars and trucks decked in Confederate flags from embarking on their road rally. The protesters passionately waved signs and chanted over a megaphone. “Hey-hey, ho-ho, white supremacy has got to go,” they sang. The Confederate flag supporters looked on, many dismissively laughing and flipping the bird.

This lasted for about ten minutes until activists were met by Plantation Police officers, who tried to steer them out of the roadway. Within a few minutes, they begrudgingly moved aside and allowed the fleet of Confederate flag supporters to depart, beeping and shouting back in retaliation.

Protesters then lit a Confederate flag on fire and threw its burnt remains into the roadway. It was then repeatedly run over. One protester even wiped the Confederate flag over her butt, then laid it down on the road. A Confederate flag supporter refused to drive over it, getting out of his truck, picking it up, and then kissing it.

“That flag is a symbol of bigotry and hate,” Cassia Laham tells New Times. “We don’t want it in our town.”

After the line of Confederate flag supporters made its way through, they continued on side streets until reaching Markham Park, where a pavilion was rented for a picnic. But when demonstrators arrived at Markham, they were again met by protesters. This time, protesters had blocked the park entrance.

The line of traffic piled almost a quarter-mile down State Road 84. A Confederate flag backer on a motorcycle grew frustrated and drove through the line of protesters locking arms. “One motorcycle snaked around and basically had no qualms plowing through the entire crowd,” Cara Reaser tells New Times. “I didn’t want to get run over, so I stepped slightly to the right. My sign got run over and hit me. It’s bent. If I hadn’t moved, he would’ve run me down.”

Activists held up the rally for at least a half-hour before police pointed them to an area across from the Confederate flag rally’s picnic pavilion. Activists marched ahead, and the Confederate flag backers followed behind.

At the pavilion, caution tape separated protesters from the Confederate flag backers. Both sides yelled. While some of it was offensive (one woman told the activists to get a job), there was serious debate about the history and meaning of the Confederate flag. Shamile Louis, a young woman with the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke openly. “There was a lot of arguing,” Louis tells New Times. “We had a conversation about the history of black liberation and history of the Confederacy. By the end, he said he understood why we are out here.”

Activists filed a report with Sunrise Police against the couple that ran them down with their motorcycle (handing over video of the crime) and another man who allegedly brandished a weapon. No one from either side was arrested. On their way out, a Broward County park ranger provided activists with a cooler of water bottles. Sunburned and sweaty, the activists guzzled it down.

"The synergy was just right," Vaughn says. "We kept pushing and pushing the envelope."