By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, June 27, with only three days to organize and prepare supporters of Alabama’s Confederate heritage were able to produce an estimated crowd of over 700 that descended on the Capital grounds to demand that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) restore the Confederate flags to the Confederate Memorial which is adjacent to Alabama’s historic Capital building.
Gov. Bentley ordered that the flags be removed on Wednesday on June 24.
The Alabama Division Adjutant of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Mike Williams told the Alabama Political Reporter that he would like to meet with Gov. Bentley to resolve this situation face to face.
Williams said that if is this is not resolved by the start of the upcoming special session, they would hold a much bigger protest than this one to pressure legislators into supporting legislation requiring that the flags be restored. They would protest again in the regular session if necessary. Williams said that he is working on the legislation that will be introduced in February when the next regular legislative session begins.
Williams said that he plans on talking to state legislators one on one about building support for getting the flags restored.
The protest on Saturday was sponsored by Mike Williams and Karl Andreas “Andy” Bodenheimer.
Bodenheimer said, “We come here today to honor our esteemed ancestors.” Bodenheimer went on to denounce Lincoln and defend the motives of his Confederate ancestors whom he said were seeking independence, “From an overbearing and oppressive government: the same government we are bound to today. The State of Alabama’s motto is, ‘We dare defend our rights.’ We will never surrender our ancestor’s flags. I refuse to be a third class citizen because of political correctness. Mr, Bentley you wanted a fight on your hands, you got one now, buddy. God bless Dixie and God save the South.”
Bodenheimer said afterwards on Facebook, “Thank you….to each and every one of you who attended…I never thought it would be as large as it was, but this is what we needed and we need to continue to stand together and Fight Fight Fight! See you at the next one! Deo Vindice!”
Protestors, a few of them in Confederate uniforms condemned Gov. Bentley calling him “Benedict Arnold Bentley” and “scalawag Bentley.” One said that Bentley was a Southerner until Wednesday, when he took our flags down.
No Confederate flag has flown over the State Capital since Alabama Governor Jim Folsom Jr. (D) took the flag down shortly after assuming office in 1993. Gov. Guy Hunt (R) had to step down after being convicted on ethics charges. The flags were around the Confederate memorial which was built with money raised by many of the same heritage groups protesting on Saturday. It also flew over the original White House of the Confederacy a modest building which is now across the street from the Alabama State Capital.
Williams said that the Confederate Memorial is a museum for the Southern soldier.
The population of Alabama in 1860 was only 964,201, but 435,080 of those were slaves. It is estimated that over 122,000 Alabamians served in the Confederate armed forces and of those as high as 35,000 were killed. Another 30,000 suffered disabilities from their service. 10,000 Alabama slaves escaped and joined the Union armed forces while 2,700 White Alabamians fought for Union forces. The war was devastating to Alabama’s economy for decades. The number of horses (then the primary means of travel and essential to farm life) plummeted from 127,000 in 1860 to just 80,000 in 1870. The number of mules decreased from 111,000 to just 76,000 in 1870.
AL Conservative Group organizer Deanna Frankowski said, “I am a damned Yankee so I am a little nervous. I am the second generation born in America. I can’t relate. I don’t have any Confederate relatives. At some point in your life someone or something is going to offend you. You can choose to move on or you choose to be a victim.”
Frankowski said that Southerners, “Have the right to acknowledge their lives and history by the flying of the flag. Who determines. What is racist? If it is a flag today what will it be tomorrow? At what point do we say enough is enough?” What happened in South Carolina is tragic, but you can’t stop a crazy individual from usurping a flag and declaring that it is evil. This is about more than a flag this is about our country.”
Most of the speakers were with Southern heritage groups, but William Flowers with the Georgia chapter of the League of the South also spoke. He said, “We are a modern day political movement. We are reaching out for the hearts of Southerners for the cause of secession. The Republican and Democrat Parties don’t represents your interest. They will not stand up and fight for you. We view the South as our country. When we look at the American Flag we feel betrayed. That time has passed.”
Williams said that politically correct elites want to “Eradicate your heritage and will ultimately come to destroy you. Be a stand up Southerner who will make a difference.”
Lloyd Caperton with Capterton’s Old South Store in Weogufka said that his company has probably sold a 100 Confederate flags in the last two days.
Dozens of state troopers and law enforcement personnel were deployed.
There were nine persons at a counter protest in Montgomery on Saturday.
There was a second protest in support of the Confederate flag around the giant flag off of I-65 in northern Autauga County. The Alabama Political Reporter observed over 150 motorcyclists at that event.
APR is also aware of smaller pro-Confederate flag protests in Moody and Ashville over the weekend.
Sunday, Phillip Gladden’s online petition at change.org had 20,642 signatures urging Gov. Bentley to “Reinstate all Confederate flags to the State buildings of Alabama.”