Greene County group says Confederate flags not racist

The group, called the Greene County Flaggers, met in a Xenia parking lot Saturday afternoon before traveling to Shadybowl Speedway in DeGraff, Ohio, to drive the track during the National Anthem before the night’s race.

Members said they were surprised by the level of attention last week’s ride gathered because of the Confederate flags, which have become a major topic nationally since church shootings in Charleston, S.C., last month by a man who posed in photos with Confederate flags.

“Yeah, of course people are going to look at it as a racist flag,” said A-Jay Doyle, a 24-year-old Xenia resident and one of the flagger group’s organizers. “That’s their opinion. The reason why (members of the group are) flying these flags is because people spilled their blood for that flag.”

More than two dozen trucks and cars met in the Xenia parking lot with a mix of Confederate, U.S., Marine Corps, POW/MIA, “Thin Blue Line” (law enforcement) and other flags attached.

“It’s just good spirits and good people,” said Tylor Penny, a 20-year-old Xenia resident and member of the group.

Group members, who tied up most of the flags while sitting in the Xenia parking lot, said they have seen both positive and negative reaction from motorists, passers-by and social media since last week’s convoy.

“If you served this country, we have all the respect in the world for you,” Doyle said. “We have freedoms to fly what we want to fly, we have freedoms to pay respects to who we want to pay respects to.”