A counterprotest is planned to “confront and stop” a Confederate flag ride from Durango to Pagosa Springs.
A local group called Rocky Mountain Confederate Conservation plans to meet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds and drive 60 miles to Red Ryder Arena in Pagosa Springs while displaying Confederate flags.
La Plata County resident Rosalee Reed said the event is about preserving history and educating people about the true meaning of the flag’s history.
As word of the ride spread, a movement to send a different message quickly organized on social media.
About a dozen local groups plan to meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at the fairgrounds in Durango to oppose the flag’s symbolism and support inclusion and tolerance, according to a Facebook post.
“We’re calling on anti-racist and anti-fascists everywhere to converge on Durango, Colorado, this Saturday to disrupt and put a stop to this event,” the Facebook post says. “Durango is a very isolated community, so please join us! Our ability to confront and stop these racists is dependent on outside support! Bring friends and family.”
Anthony Nocella, an organizer and assistant professor of sociology at Fort Lewis College, said it doesn’t matter that certain individuals take pride in the Confederate flag. What is important is that millions of people are affected by the symbol.
“Why are we going around with a symbol that hurts people symbolically and historically?” he said. “Isn’t there another way to show your pride in your culture?
“I would also argue that this is not the South,” he said. “Colorado was not part of the South and never has been part of the South. So we also need to know our geography.”
Nocella expects 50 people or more will participate in the counterrally. They plan to promote Durango as a place of inclusion, regardless of sexuality, race, ethnicity and disability.
Tourism is too important to Durango to be exclusive, he said.
Reed, with Rocky Mountain Confederate Conservation, did not respond to an email Friday seeking comment about the counterrally.
In a previous interview, Reed said the Confederate flag is a piece of Civil War history that has come to be misunderstood.
“If you want to worry about how everyone feels about everything, then we’ll end up losing everything that we’ve got,” she said.
The Durango Police Department plans to monitor the events at the fairgrounds, said Lt. Darrell Robertson. But it has no plans to stop the Confederate flag ride from taking place.
“The rights of law-abiding citizens engaging in peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and movement is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the exercise of their rights raises no heightened sense of concern for the Durango Police Department,” Robertson wrote in an email to the Herald. “As always, the Durango Police Department is always vigilant and prepared to respond to any criminal activity in our city.”