RUSSELLVILLE (KATV) — Dozens are expected this weekend at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam, expected to have Confederate flags in tow. Organizers say the rally has nothing to do with racism, but some in town are still looking to stop is from happening.
Tyler Titsworth, organizer of the Pope County Rebel Ride, said the rally he's planning has no basis in racism - adding that protestors have been told in advance that there is to be no racial slurs or offensive language used, no flag burning and no violence.
"It's the backbone of our community really," said Titsworth, describing his personal tie to the rebel flag.
Titsworth organized the rally as a food drive for the Main Street Mission in Russellville, but the point is to show rebel pride. Titsworth said he doesn't just expect white people, but also black people at the rally. He said the rebel flag is about southern pride.
"It's not all about slavery, it's not all about racism," said Titsworth. "It was about our states wanting the rights to our individuals without having the government completely control us."
Organizers understand the flag can appear offensive to some, but Titsworth and others say it's about their right to display the flag - something that's come under fire recently in the wake of the Charleston Church Massacre.
"What flag doesn't have some type of horrible history wrapped up into it," said Larissa Gudino, organizer of the Facebook group Russellville for Justice. "If the Confederate flag is banned, racism will not end - it will not magically disappear."
But Gudino, whose group opposes the rally on Sunday, said the flag may be one thing but a rally touting the flag sends the wrong message.
"Waving their rebel pride in everyone's face - I feel like that's also just complete blatant disregard and disrespect for the people that do see it as something much more ominous and much more menacing," said Gudino.
Both groups are worried about protests getting out of hand - on both sides of the issue. Russellville for Justice is encouraging those opposed to write a letter to Russellville's mayor to ask him to stop the rally from happening.
The Rebel Ride has already been permitted by the city to hold the rally, according to event organizers.
The event is scheduled to take place on the Russellville side of the Dardanelle Lock and Dam at 4:00 PM on Sunday. Organizers were reluctant to release the route of the rally due to concerns about counter-protestors.