A local group plans to fly Confederate flags Saturday on a drive from Durango to Pagosa Springs.
The “flag ride” is intended to raise awareness about the flag’s true meaning and preserve history, said Rosalee Reed, a member of Rocky Mountain Confederate Conservation and a La Plata County resident.
The 60-mile ride will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds and end at Red Ryder Arena in Pagosa Springs.
This weekend was chosen because March 4 is Confederate Flag Day – the day the first Confederate flag was adopted in 1861, she said.
“It’s basically just a show of support for history, for heritage and definitely not for hate,” Reed said.
The route was chosen because it is highly visible and well-traveled, Reed said. Participants were unsure if they would drive on Main Avenue in downtown Durango or avoid the business district. Reed expects six to 12 people to participate. No permit is required, and the Colorado State Patrol in Durango said it was unaware of the ride.
Reed said she’s aware that the Confederate flag scares, offends and symbolizes racism for many Americans, but the Confederates weren’t a hate group; rather, they wanted independence from the north. Americans are increasingly losing their freedoms of expression and speech, she said.
“I acknowledge that some people feel that way, but if you want to worry about how everyone feels about everything, then we’ll end up losing everything that we’ve got,” she said.
In an email, she added: “For every piece of history, every piece of art, every idea, there will always be some that find it offensive. However, if we simply remove anything and everything that could ever be offensive, soon there will be nothing left. No history, no identity, no freedom, no character left to the people of this country.”
The Civil War was about Southern independence, she said, similar to the Revolutionary War.
“A few people have taken a symbol of pride and heritage and have used it for their own agendas and have swayed the public opinion on it,” she said. “I’m trying to get people to realize and see that it’s not a symbol of hate.”
Rocky Mountain Confederate Conservation is less than a year old, with more than 600 “likes” on Facebook. About 20 of them are residents of Southwest Colorado, Reed said. According to its Facebook page, it supports Confederate States of American heritage, southern pride and freedom.
“Our mission is to peaceably protest, as is our constitutional right, the infringement of our freedoms, the same infringement that (ironically) threatens to segregate us, one and all. We aim to inform every person about the current situation and the injustices.”
The group also restores confederate grave sites and tries to educate people about the Civil War.
“I just hope it’s a peaceful event,” Reed said. “We don’t mean any disrespect to anyone. We just want to be able to show our support, fly our colors, be respectful and support what we believe in – the same things any American wants.”