UPDATE: Dalton issues response to flag parade
City officials responded by issuing a statement Tuesday regarding the procession of Confederate flags in the city.
Tuesday, June 30th 2015, 2:41 pm EDT by
Tuesday, June 30th 2015, 11:31 pm EDT
UPDATE: You can call it the crash heard around social media.
Video of an event promoting the Confederate flag in Dalton has been making rounds online and many have been raising questions about what looked to be a police escort.
“We as a city don't condone or take sides in anything like this. We were there for public safety,” Mayor Dennis Mock said.
Mock is defending his city's police department after criticism came when officers worked a Confederate flag rally on Sunday.
“[The police department] felt like it was their duty, and it was, to protect the public and protect the participants and they felt the best way to do that was to get out there and have some patrol out there,” Mock added.
Dalton Police Captain Chris Cooke says the rally's creator contacted the department hours before the event to let them know turnout was going to be big.
And it was. Cooke says about 150 vehicles showed up decked out in Confederate flags for a procession throughout the city.
Officers blocked off six major intersections not because they support the group, but to ensure safety of the entire community.
“We don't support any groups. We are the government, we get that association. Our job is to make sure everyone is protected no matter what their voice is every day and that's what our job is,” Cooke added.
Zach Hair attended Sunday's rally. His red truck can be seen in cell phone videos that have gone viral. For him, the flag represents heritage and not racism.
“It's my freedom. It's my right and [the flags] aren't going to come down and I'm not going to take them down,” Hair said.
Mock says the rally doesn't represent the city of Dalton, a city he says many in the state look up to.
“We're a model city in many ways. The conference I was at, I was with other Georgia mayors and they look to us because we're a model to others in so many ways and when you're at the top, people are shooting at ya,” he said.
Cooke tells Channel 3 there weren't any major problems at the event. Only a minor crash that didn't result in any injuries.
After coming under criticism for what some perceived as an endorsement by the city of Dalton for a impromptu Confederate flag parade that police "escorted" through town, city officials responded by issuing a statement Tuesday.
Police say they blocked intersections to safely control the traffic, and their actions were to keep the entire community safe, and not act as an validation for any groups' philosophical position.
The city's statement regarding the procession of Confederate flags reads:
"We sincerely regret the negative publicity and public perception that Sunday's event has created for our city due to the sudden procession of the Confederate flags driven through Dalton Georgia. Our goal and duty then and always, is for the safety of the citizens of Dalton.
This was an impromptu rally and the Dalton Police Department had to act swiftly to provide public safety for the community by blocking certain heavily traveled intersections along the route.
The City of Dalton remains neutral to any and all personal views and beliefs. The actions taken by the city should not be perceived as validating one groups opinion.
In all our decisions, we will continue to be accountable to the public and will always value our diverse local culture."
The Mayor and Council
City of Dalton, Georgia