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A Virginia flag group raised a giant Confederate flag Saturday morning in front of a crowd of hundreds following months of controversy.
A 15-by-15-foot Confederate flag was raised by the Virginia Flaggers along Interstate 95 in Chesterfield County, an event that the flag raisers said was not intended to cause offence to anyone, but to honor Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.
According to WRIC, no protesters were seen in the crowd of about 200 people watching the flag as it was raised on a 50-foot pole. Cheers, applause, and even celebratory rifle fire were heard coming from the hundreds of onlookers as the flag flew high.
The flag raising was met with controversy since this summer when the Flaggers stated their plans to raise the flag along the interstate, reports the Washington Post. Nearly 25,000 people have since signed a petition against the raising of the Confederate flag since their announcement, and many have called for residents of Richmond to fly the American flag in response.
The Mayor of Richmond, the former capitol of the Confederacy, issued a statement after the Flaggers expressed their intention to raise the Confederate flag on Saturday, saying that he did not support the promotion of a symbol “that divides so many in our city” and that he did not wish to “refight battles of the past.”
The Flaggers issued their response to the mayor on their blog on Saturday morning.
“Our battles are all defensive...in defense of the honor and good name of our ancestors, and against actions taken to dishonor them and desecrate their monuments and memorials,” they said.
"We, too, are interested in symbols that unite, and believe that the history of ALL Richmond residents should be included in the City's commemorations and remembrances.”
In response, a 60-foot American flag was displayed in downtown Richmond on Saturday following the Flaggers’ event.