FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Dozens of people waved Confederate flags outside the state Capitol and compared efforts to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from the rotunda to Nazi German persecution.
About 200 people attended a rally organized by the Kentucky chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Supporters signed letters to the panel tasked with overseeing the rotunda's statues, asking the group to save the monument to Davis.
The June 17 killings at an African-American church in South Carolina has renewed a push to remove Confederate flags from public property in southern states and the Davis statue from Kentucky's Capitol.
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"It's history genocide," said Craig Cain, who spoke at the rally. "We're being drug through the mud, and now they're trying to take our heritage."
Another speaker said the alleged South Carolina shooter, Dylann Roof, was deranged and even possessed by the devil. Speakers denounced Roof's actions, but said people shouldn't blame pro-Confederate groups for the killings.
Another man singled out a woman who held a "Black Lives Matter" sign in protest at the rally.
"All lives matter!" he shouted. "How can you pick one life that's more important anybody else's?"
The woman, Berea Ernst, of Frankfort, stood near the back after finding out about the event at the last minute. "I wanted to be one person coming to represent another viewpoint," she said.
The Historic Properties Advisory Commission is allowing public comment on the issue until Wednesday. The commission has scheduled an Aug. 5 meeting to debate and possibly vote on the statue's fate.
Organizers of Friday's rally instructed people to sign their name attesting that they were not members of a hate group. The Sons of Confederate Veterans were concerned that members of the Ku Klux Klan would show up, said Thomas Hiter, one of the Confederate group's officers.
Security was tight. Several Kentucky State Police troopers attended the event in plainclothes, and the Capitol's facilities security guards were present. There was no violence.
Hiter accused "liberal groups" of attempting to photoshop Dylann Roof to portray him as a Confederate sympathizer in an attempt to go after Confederate flags and monuments.
"I can't prove it, I don't know it. People who I know and trust tell me that it is so," he told reporters.
Cain, who said the number of pro-Confederate attendees made him proud, compared the actions of civil rights groups to what Nazi Germans did to Jewish people in the 1930s and 40s.
"Make it as if (our) culture never existed at all," Cain said. "This is what the Germans tried to do as they marched their way through Europe. The Nazis -- you remember who they were?"