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Vol. 77/No. 17      May 6, 2013

Texas: NAACP organizes protest
against Confederate memorial
PALESTINE, Texas — Some 30 people marched in this small east Texas city April 13 to protest the opening of Confederate Veterans Memorial Plaza by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. The privately owned plaza features five flags, four of them from the Confederacy.

The Confederate flag “symbolizes hatred, depression, oppression and slavery,” said Kenneth Davidson, president of the Palestine NAACP branch, as he kicked off the march.

In April 2011 the Sons of the Confederate Veterans got approval from the Anderson County Commissioners’ Court to raise a Confederate flag in front of the county courthouse for “Confederate History Month,” an official commemoration in the state. Protests organized by the NAACP succeeded in getting the flag removed after four days. Plans for the private plaza, complete with five tall flagpoles, began after that.

The Palestine Herald-Press, as well as other radio and TV media, promoted the Confederate flag-raising ceremony, attended by more than 200 people.

Local police prevented marchers from passing the Confederate Veterans Memorial Plaza. But later in the day, protesters went to the plaza, where they talked with observers, including workers from the area.

“We came here because when we heard about the park with the flags, we knew it wasn’t right,” said José Estrada, who came with his brother Fernando.

“I remember when that flag was hung over the courthouse in 2011,” Fernando Estrada added. “Think of it. You are going into the court with that flag flying. You know right away you are not going to get any kind of justice there!”

“That flag is about the war that was fought to end slavery,” Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP, told the rally. “When you see that flag today you feel as if you don’t belong. You are supposed to feel that way.”

“Campaigning door to door in working-class neighborhoods all over Houston, we’ve learned how many workers understand our common interests, from opposing racist attacks to fighting for the rights of immigrants and women and joining with other workers resisting the effects of the capitalist crisis,” Michael Fitzsimmons, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Houston mayor, told rally participants.

Franklin Gans, from the Orange, Texas, NAACP chapter urged others to join in protesting plans to erect a Confederate memorial there.

Earlier this year, the city council in Memphis, Tenn., voted to rename three city parks that honored the Confederacy. Some 60 members of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan rallied there March 30 to protest the move.  
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