Tampa, FL – On the eve of the anniversary of our nation's independence, some gathered in protest and set fire to the American flag. The rally at Curtis Hixon Park was advertised to "End Racist Violence," but the message was quickly lost as the stars and stripes went up in flames.
"I'm not sure what message that sent. We just organized the event to make sure people came here and had an outlet to express themselves. We didn't plan every detail," said Alekos Zambrano of Raices en Tampa. He organized the protest that brought out dozens.
After burning the American flag, the group found a confederate flag and also burned that. Members of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement spoke to the crowd saying the American flag and the confederate flag are one in the same. Jesse Nevel called the American flag "a piece of s---."
"To us the Confederate flag and the American flag, those represent the same thing which is that this country, this social system was built on slavery and genocide," said Nevel.
Others who came to support the intended message of the rally, did not support the flag burning. "It's important to show solidarity with people of color because we're all in this together. We all have a responsibility to try and make sure that people are safe and continue that American dream," said Kathy Morris.
The group had three demands of the City of Tampa: Work to bring down the confederate flag at I-4 and I-75, Rename Robert E. Lee Elementary on Columbus Avenue and do more to investigate stops involving black bicyclists. They say they'll continue to bring their message before city government until they see action.
Several Tampa Police Officers monitored the rally nearby. There were no arrests as the rally remained peaceful and it is legal to burn the American flag under the first amendment.
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