PILOT MOUNTAIN — In the same week when violence gripped parts of the nation, the pro-Confederate group Southern Cross held a peaceful march and assembly in downtown Pilot Mountain Saturday which made reference to the turmoil elsewhere.
This included a moment of silence after about 20 marchers bearing both Rebel and American flags walked under police escort along Main Street from Pilot Hosiery Mill to a side street near Hardee’s.
Joe Davis, the president of Southern Cross — a group based in the Dobson area — asked its members assembled there and a handful of onlookers to bow their heads in respect to those dying due to “everything that has went on in the past week.”
This included five Dallas police officers being killed by sniper fire Thursday during a protest against recent police shootings of African-Americans in Minnesota and Louisiana. The Dallas shooter was in turn killed by a robot-controlled bomb set off by officers after a standoff.
Davis said hatred and racism are at the root of recent violent acts and that considering all the good things about the United States of America, it is shameful to see such events occur.
“It saddens me,” he said, that “we can’t get past the color of our skin and want to use that as an excuse.”
Davis called for unity among all people. “We’re supposed to love one another — that’s what this country was founded on,” he said during a short address that also highlighted several other issues.
Everyone becoming enslaved
While groups that support the Confederate flag, such as Southern Cross, often are targeted as being racist due to the slavery issues involved with the War Between the States, Davis suggested that the lines on this are now being blurred.
“We’re being taxed to death,” the Southern Cross president said, his remarks greeted with shouts of “amen” at times.
“We’re going right back into slavery with our government, and it doesn’t matter what color you are,” he continued.
“That’s why we left England, right,” Davis said of the American Revolution. “We were being taxed to death.”
He said taxation of the South also was the key issue during the War Between the States and not slavery as some believe.
President Abraham Lincoln was attempting to levy a large tax on the resource-rich South, according to Davis, which led to the eventual invasion of Federal forces in the name of preserving the Union.
“They (Lincoln and others) knew if the South pulled out and seceded from the Union, the North would go broke.”
Saturday’s march and rally in downtown Pilot Mountain came on the heels of a similar event in Mount Airy in May, when Davis said others would be forthcoming in the county.
He also repeated some of the same concerns as in May about ongoing efforts that are eroding the rights of Americans — including trying to outlaw public displays of the Confederate flag. But Davis said a larger loss could result from it possibly being banned:
“If this offends you today, what’s going to offend you tomorrow?”
Davis said that not shying away from offending people who need to be offended is a hallmark of American democracy, starting with the rebellion against the British.
“This country wasn’t founded on people being afraid of offending somebody.”
Davis said much credit is due to military members who have fought and died over the years to preserve the rights of free expression, religion and gun ownership.
A visible police presence was in place at Saturday’s march, for which some arrived early to sit in vehicles or benches along the route to watch or photograph the procession. And as the flag-wielding group passed through the downtown area, it attracted the gazes of others who curiously filtered out of businesses.
“This is unexpected,” one such onlooker, Mike Moran, said while pausing to record the event on his cell phone during a short visit to Pilot Mountain. “I came up for lunch and thought I’d stay and make a video.”
Moran said he had no problem with the march being held. “My impressions are that everybody has a right to express themselves.”
Davis, the Southern Cross president, admitted that he would have preferred to see a larger turnout for the event, but that it could lead to bigger things.
“This right here is a start,” he said of citizens mounting grass roots efforts to put their country back on course.
“It’s up to us to get our sorry butts off the couch and do something about it,” Davis added.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.