Peaceful Floyd County rally for valid causes

One loud troublemaker paraded a confederate flag while hurling insults before pulling off his shirt with challenges to fight. Police took him away.
Part of the large, peaceful crowd of more than 200. (Photo by Carolyn Reilly)

Sorry we missed the 200+ who gathered in support of Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter and the need to do something about that replica statue purported to be of a confederate soldier that sits on the Floyd County courthouse lawn. Time to get rid of another “monument” to those who fought against this country in a lost cause?

My wife’s therapy at Carilion Friday afternoon kept us away from Floyd and the peaceful rally at the Courthouse.

Roger Andrew Altizer Jr., who paraded around with a confederate flag, then took off his shirt and wanted to fight. Instead, the police took him away. (Photo by Carolyn Reilly)

Sadly, the rally was disrupted briefly by a troublemaker parading a confederate flag, threatening participants and pulling off his shirt in a challenge to fight. A Floyd County deputy, assisted by other law enforcement officials, intervened and led Roger Andrew Altizer Jr. of Hanover County away. He is charged with assault and disturbing the peace.

Ashley Spinks, managing editor of The Floyd Press, has a full story on the rally in today’s Roanoke Times. It also appears on the Times and Press websites.

Michele Morris, owner of Wooly Jumper Yarns in Floyd and former co-owner of Oddfellas Cantina, noted:

Floyd county has a lot of young black, brown, and white citizens who are ready for change. Ready to speak out against the racism that exists in the county, identify it, and take measures to remove it.

The confederate flag ban in the schools is a good example. Personally I was happy to see and hear from members of our black community. Counter to what some believe, we were front and center in the vigil. Floyd has strong traditions among its black community, and they were on display at the vigil.

June 19th is a holiday celebrating the end of slavery. It’s a big day for African-Americans and should be one for all of us. Slavery may have ended but racism, bigotry and hate continue to divide this angry nation.

Many argue that statues like the one in front of the Floyd County courthouse insults the memory of those who suffered under the bonds of slavery and also “honors” those who fought against our nation.

One could also argue that having a statue of a purported confederate soldier on the courthouse lawn is hypocrisy for a county where many supported the Union over the Confederacy and fought for the winning side.

In the 1860 presidential election, only 16 votes separated Union candidate John Bell, who opposed secession, from Democrat John C. Breckinridge in Floyd County. Historians say that if Giles County had voted to become part of West Virginia, Floyd would have too.

My mother’s family lived in Floyd County during the Civil War and two of her ancestors fought for the Union. So did many others.

The Library of Virginia reports:

Members of the Virginia convention spent much of their time in March debating various proposals to settle the sectional crisis and discussing the advantages and disadvantages of seceding. In the evening session on April 4, 1861, Delegate Lewis Harvie, of Amelia County, introduced a resolution “that an ordinance resuming the powers delegated by Virginia to the Federal Government” be drafted and submitted to the voters for ratification. As recorded in the official convention journal, the resolution failed by a vote of 90 to 45.

–Library of Virginia

Henry Deskins, the Floyd County delegate to the convention, voted against secession.

The company that sold the statue to the Daughters of the Confederacy used the same mold for the face of both Union and confederate soldiers. The statue in Floyd does not mention a number for those who served or for those who died.

No mention or memorial to the Floyd Countians who fought for the Union exists in the Courthouse lawn or at any other location in the county.

So what, if anything, was the point of Altizer, or the few others, who wanted to fight over a flag for a losing cause of those who fought against our nation?

History does not support their claims about any valid reason to display a flag that represents racism and those who fought against the United States of America. Same for a generic statue produced for profit by a commercial outfit that was dispersed throughout Virginia and the South.

Thanks to those who organized and participated in an excellent, peaceful rally for valid issues need our support and recognition.

We honor you, because you care for America, not lost causes.

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