VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Peaceful flag related protests on and around Valdosta State University's campus continued Monday, following a peaceful protest that went viral on Friday.
Around 3:30 Monday afternoon, a large group of people gathered out front of the VSU library and marched through campus to show their support for the American flag. And, a former Vietnam vet also stood at a nearby intersection much of the day to counter Friday's protest.
Even as the rain began to fall in Valdosta Monday morning, Vietnam veteran Tom Daughtrey stood at the corner of Baytree and Oak, holding an American flag. Daughtrey was trying to call attention to what he believed was an improper detaining of Michelle Manhart by campus police on Friday.
Manhart was detained after she took a flag away from a group of students who were walking on it. "It was wrong for them to manhandle Michelle. A boy scout could've taken her down, not four grown, burley policemen. That was not fair to her," Daughtrey said.
Manhart, who is a veteran herself, was given a criminal trespass warning and was, as of Monday, banned from campus.
Daughtrey said he certainly doesn't agree with what the students did, but he does understand that the U.S. Constitution gives them the right to do what they did.
"I'm gonna pray for them," Daughtrey emphasized. "I'm gonna pray that they will come around sooner or later when they grow up and become productive men and women and eventually learn what the flag means to a majority of us."
The university had, since Friday, also received various threats on social media from alumni, parents of future students, and community members threatening to withdraw support from the university because of the protest.
Andy Clark, VSU's Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing, and Communication said university officials are reaching out to those individuals. "We're reachin' out to those people, tryin' to get them to better understand the constitutionality of this issue and that these people, these students, had a right to protest in the way that they did," Clark explained.
Manhart and her supporters were, as of Monday, also working to organize a rally later in the week in support of the flag.
Clark said the university is prepared for whatever may happen and said the campus's student conduct officer was reviewing video from Friday's protest to determine if any students violated any codes of conduct.