“An eight-mile convoy of pickups, motorcycles and cars wound through a central Florida town on Sunday in a show of support for the Confederate flag, as a backlash against its banishment from public landmarks across the South picks up steam.
Horns blared and hundreds of the rebel flags fluttered as more than 1,500 vehicles and some 4,500 people turned out for the “Florida Southern Pride Ride” in Ocala, according to police estimates. Vehicles from states across the South and as far away as California participated.
“That flag has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people,” said David Stone, 38, who organized the event. “It doesn’t symbolize hate unless you think it’s hate – and that’s your problem, not mine.”
In Ocala, the seat of Marion County, an administrator had ordered the Confederate flag’s removal from a government complex. But last week county leaders overruled the order and the banner is again flying atop the building.
“It’s just about heritage. I’m upset they want to remove a piece of history,” said Jessica McRee, 29, an Ocala native and employee of a law enforcement agency who participated in Sunday’s ride.”