VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - All was quiet in Valdosta Friday evening after an estimated 1,000 people marched along the sidewalks around VSU Friday afternoon to show support for the American flag.
It was quite the scene Friday afternoon, and thankfully a peaceful one. Law enforcement and VSU officials had been anticipating around 4,000 people all week, but not nearly that many actually showed up. Nonetheless, plenty of people still packed the sidewalks to make it known that they support the American flag.
People lined the sidewalk along Patterson St. Friday afternoon outside the main entrance to the VSU campus.
Most waved or carried American flags. "I'm here for the people who can't be here; the ones who died for our freedom and that can't be here to stand up against that moron who did something stupid on campus," said Afghan War vet Joseph Williams.
On April 17th, Eric Sheppard and several other VSU student protesters walked on an American flag on campus, igniting a week long fire storm of media attention, constitutional debate, and ultimately Friday's rally.
"You don't have the right to throw the American flag on the ground and walk on it. 'Even though the Supreme Court says they can?' That's just disrespectful for everybody that served in the military," said Ralph Monk, as he stood waving a flag in the driveway leading up to VSU on Patterson St.
Some simply wore flag themed clothing. "Just to support everyone out here, man," said a VSU student dressed as Uncle Sam, when asked why he chose to participate in the rally.
Others still carried signs along with their flags. "We stand on overpasses all across america," said Earl Shey, Georgia Director of "Overpasses for America, as she explained the meaning of her sign bearing the name of the group. "We've been doing it for about three years now. The goal is to just wake people up. It's the way to reach the most people."
After the rallier's permit expired at 3 p.m. and most everyone had dispersed, there was a small confrontation between those out supporting the flag and those who support the actions of the student protesters on April 17th.
"It's an equality thing. Nobody's saying it's a white thing. There are Asians here who are treated differently just because they're Asian. There are Hispanics here who are treated differently because they're Hispanic. That's what we're fighting for," emphasized the rallier who was trying to explain why she and others support the actions of the student protesters.
Just about every law enforcement officer out there was on hand during the confrontation to make sure nothing got out of hand. And that, ultimately, was what Friday was about.
People peacefully expressing their opinions.