- By Mark Wilson American-Statesman Staff
A rally and march are set to take place in downtown Austin at the beginning of September to promote “true Confederate heritage,” according to organizers.
A Facebook event page hosted by the Texas Confederate Militia says the Dixie Freedom Rally, scheduled for Sept. 2 at Woolridge Square, on 900 Guadalupe Street, will feature live music, guest speakers and a march to the Capitol and Confederate monuments nearby.
“You can bring any Confederate or U.S. Flag. It is open carry and also concealed handguns plus longrifles are permitted. Just go by the State Law,” the page said. “No racism tolerated or will be removed. (Let’s) show everyone true Southern Hospitality.”
On Tuesday afternoon, 27 Facebook users said they planned to attend and another 168 were interested in attending.
The event was scheduled last month, but it is now slated to happen amid a nationwide outcry against white supremacist groups and organizations that glorify the Confederacy after a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., erupted in violence Saturday. The Charlottesville rally was initially organized to protest city plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“We are aware that there are some events that are being planned in Austin either surrounding the Confederacy or events related to this past weekend in Charlottesville,” said Interim Austin police Chief Brian Manley. “So we are paying attention to those, as we do to other events that pop up, and we will be staffed accordingly to allow for safety.”
The American-Statesman reached out to the Texas Confederate Militia for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.
State Preservation Board spokesman Chris Currens said the board is aware that the group has promoted the event on Facebook, but representatives had not contacted authorities to discuss holding an event on Capitol grounds by Tuesday afternoon.
Jason Maurer, events manager for Austin’s Parks and Recreation department, said the group had not requested a permit to have an event in Woolridge Square either.
Activists have scheduled a counterprotest for the event, and more than 750 Facebook users have said they will attend. More than 2,000 have expressed interest in going.
“Although its organizers will claim otherwise, this event is predicated on white supremacy; racism is intrinsic to any event glorifying the Confederacy,” the counterprotest page said. “Not only do such events often galvanize their attendees to (commit) individual or mass street violence, they also build parties and organizations that have a political program of systemic oppression (e.g., racist and fascist groups often recruit and organize at these events).”
A unity march and concert featuring the Latin Grammy-nominated Voz de Mando is scheduled for the same day at the Capitol.
“We’re bringing together Texas’ diverse communities of color with a free concert and march to show lawmakers that we are powerful, that we are united, and that we will fight against SB4 and all attacks on our community!,” the event’s Facebook page said.