Baltimore About a dozen protesters waved the Confederate flag outside the NAACP's national convention Sunday and defended the banner that the civil rights organization has deemed a symbol of slavery.
The protesters, members of three conservative groups, feel the NAACP's 9-year-old campaign to have the banner removed from all public properties is an attack on Southern heritage and culture.
"Leave our flag alone," said Richard Gebo, a Virginian now living in Pennsylvania. "That's all we have left."
"I'm sorry we had these people as slaves," said protester Michael Chandler of Blue Ridge, Ga. "But there's no reason for them to try to tear down our culture."
The Confederate flag was recently removed from atop the South Carolina statehouse dome after the NAACP called for a tourism boycott of the state.
Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the protesters, who were "to some extent racist," were only hurting themselves and anyone who examined them closely would find them "repugnant."
The rally was sponsored by the Southern Party of Georgia, a newly formed conservative political party that calls for "peaceful, lawful and orderly secession" of the 16 southern states from the American union.
Despite a call from the Southern Party for 50 volunteers, only about 12 showed up, marching for several hours in a square barricade under the sun dressed in woolen Confederate grays.
About an equal number of police, some on horseback, were on hand. The rally stayed peaceful, despite a steady dialogue between the white demonstrators and overwhelmingly black passers-by that often grew heated.