MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - According to officials, over 500 people showed up to the Alabama Capitol Building on Saturday for the "Southerns Rally" to protest the removal of Confederate flags from the Capitol grounds.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered that the flags be removed from the Capitol grounds on Wednesday, which drew both praise and outrage across the state. Bentley said that the flags are a distraction and needed to come down.
According to those in support of flying the Confederate flag at the memorial, the rally is to send a message that the Confederate flag is about heritage, not hate and that it should be honored.
"If you studied the history of [Adolf] Hitler, first thing he did was he started to take away the heritage from the people he wanted to oppress," rally organizer Mike Williams said. "Well we call that flag racial and hatred; however, if you don't change hearts, changing that flag isn't going to change anything."
Dozens of law enforcement officers with MPD and ALEA were on hand during the rally to keep everyone safe. Law enforcement officials say the rally was peaceful and there were no problems.
The three national flags of the Confederacy and the Confederacy Battle Flag have flown at the memorial on the Capitol grounds since 1993. That is when a court ordered that the battle flag be removed from the Alabama Capitol Building's dome.
The Confederate flags were allowed to fly at the Confederate Memorial as a part of a historical display.
There also was a small group that congregated across from the Capitol building on Dexter Avenue to show their opposition of the Southerns Rally.
"I feel, a lot of people feel, that this Confederate flag has another meaning as opposed to its true history," said Montgomery resident Madison Clark. "We wanted to remind them that this Confederate flag was basically a form of treason against the U.S. government and what they want to hold onto went against the ideas of freedom."