A Bedford County, Virginia, high school sparked a student rally in support of the Confederate flag after administrators enforced a ban of the historic banner.
After school administrators at Staunton River High School in Montea, Virginia, enforced its policy, telling students that the Confederate flag was banned from vehicles in the school’s parking lot, a group of students said they organized to sponsor a parade of cars festooned with the rebel flag to express their First Amendment rights.
According to WDBJ, CBS Channel 7, students Chas Goodson and Zachary Barton were told to leave their flags at home but felt the school was attempting to shut down their Constitutional right to free expression.
“We’re doing all of this to stand up for our First Amendment rights,” Goodson told the media.
The pair of students said they outfitted their vehicles with the Confederate symbol in memory of recently-passed country music legend Merle Haggard but were confronted by school administrators over the flags.
The pair also noted their ancestors served in the civil war and the flag was a nod to their ancestry.
“We are very proud of our heritage and we want to be able to show it,” Barton told Channel 7. “We were given our First Amendment right for a reason and we want to be able to use it.”
School administrations hastened to claim they have no intention of stomping on anyone’s First Amendment rights but feel it necessary to “limit distractions” for the students.
“We have to limit any and all things that we determine are a distraction to the school day,” Bedford County Public Schools spokesman Ryan Edward said on Friday.
Edwards further noted that large banners and flags had already been banned on vehicles in the school parking lot, even if they are large U.S. flags.
But the students who organized the parade of autos said their response isn’t over. Students and parents also went to the campus and marched with their flags too, some representing a group called “Battle Flag Rally for Freedom.”
“It’s not about hate. It’s about the heritage,” said Jason Wright, a Staunton River High student. “When schools try to take away our American flags and stuff and tell us we can’t fly them at school, that’s not right.”
The students say they intend to rally again sometime next week.
The “Battle Flag Rally for Freedom” group has a Facebook page where they describe themselves as a peaceful group.
“We promote peaceful rallies for the support of Confederate and American values. We support the Constitution of the Confederacy & the U.S.A. no hate,” the Facebook page says.
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