Confederate flag flies high over Palestine, controversy heats up

PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) - A new park in Palestine has created a lot of controversy and on Saturday, opposition protested its grand opening.

On Saturday morning, the Sons of Confederate Veterans hosted a parade and ceremony to officially open the "Confederate Veterans Memorial Plaza". It is a park that honors confederate veterans from the Civil War.

However, members of the NAACP said the Confederate flag that flies over the park is offensive.

"It's a flag that many of our ancestors fought under. It's a special flag to us because it was extremely special to them," said Doug Smith, Adjutant/Treasurer of the John H. Reagan Camp.

However, the flag that now flies high over park is offensive to others in the Palestine community. So much so, that the president of Palestine's NAACP organized a rally. People came from all over Texas to show their support.

"I don't think you have to be a part of the NAACP to find offense to that flag," said Branden Johnson, President of the Longview NAACP.

Kenneth Davidson is President of Palestine's NAACP and said the flag symbolizes, "hatred, depression, oppression, slavery, and it's nothing but division."

Sam Allen spoke at the ceremony in support of the park's opening and said the opposition's anger over the flag is misplaced.

"There's some people who represent racism, the people here, at least the ones I've met, and I've been associated with the Sons of Confederacy for the last 15 years [are] not about that. They talk about history, they talk about heritage. Not racism or anything else," Allen said.

Both groups met after the ceremony to discuss their difference, however the only thing they did agree on is that they need to talk behind closed doors. An officer actually volunteered to be a mediator between the two parties who say they wanted to handle this peacefully.

"The NAACP is not going to be a violent rally. If you are going to be violent, you don't need to be with us," Davidson said.

"We're just going to have to agree on some issues and disagree on the others and try to move on from there, and that's what we are going to try to do. As Americans, as Texans, as residents of Anderson County, there will always be many, many more issues that unite us than divide us," Smith said.

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