This morning at 9 am, the Gulf Coast Patriots Network (GCPN) kicked off a rally in front of the Caddo Parish courthouse in Shreveport Louisiana. The rally was organized by Rex Dukes, the founder of the GCPN as a showing of support of the Confederate monument in front of the courthouse. Rex and the GCPN believe that the monument represents their “ancestors who fought and died for the Confederacy during the civil war.”

More on what Rex had to say in this video:

In attendance were about 15 people waving Confederate flags and walking around the courthouse. They debated with citizens who approached them and explained their point of view. “We see it as trying to save our history, the history of the south,” one demonstrator said.

Demonstrators wave flags in support of the Confederate monument.

The monument in front of the courthouse has been a topic of debate amongst many people in Shreveport. Some feel, as Rex does, that the monument is a tribute to history. Others, however, see the monument as a symbol of hate and oppression.

“Shreveport is a city that is supposed to have progressed, but seeing that monument and the flags is like telling all the black people in Shreveport that we still don’t like you,” said Mario DeMello, a local resident, and hip-hop artist. DeMello was unaware that the rally was taking place until he saw it from the window of his recording studio on Texas St.

Mario wasn’t alone in his criticism of the rally; several onlookers expressed their disapproval of the rally by debating with members of the GCPN. Another man, who identified himself only as Chris, waved a USSR flag. “The Soviet Union and the Confederacy are both failed states, so I thought this was appropriate,” he said.

Confederate flags weren’t the only flags being flown by the GCPN, there was also one man with an American flag, and another with the flag of Transvaal. Transvaal was the name of the used to refer to the Transvaal region during the period of direct British rule and military occupation between the end of the Anglo-Boer War in 1902 when the South African Republic was dissolved, and the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

A man holds the flag of Transvaal flag in Shreveport Louisiana

A man holds the flag of Transvaal flag in Shreveport Louisiana

There were two things that Rex was expecting to happen that didn’t. One, he expected more support than the handful that showed up to demonstrate with him, and two, he expected there to be violent counter-protests. The GCPN brought in the Louisiana Patriot Militia to act as security. Three militia members walked the opposite side of the street in tactical gear and openly carried holstered pistols. Shreveport Police also patrolled the area on horseback.

Shreveport police officers on horseback patrol downtown Shreveport Louisiana.

Shreveport police officers on horseback patrol downtown Shreveport Louisiana.

The onlookers on both sides of the argument had one thing in common, a feeling of sadness.