OCALA, Fla. - Thousands of people rode in motorcycles and trucks to attend a rally and Pride Ride Sunday in Ocala to show support for the Confederate flag.
The event was intended as a peaceful as a peaceful rally in support of the Confederate flag, but gunshots rang out nearby and now police are investigating.
No one was hurt, but police said at least six shots were fired from an apartment complex near the Livestock Pavilion where the 17-mile ride started.
Residents of the predominately African-American neighborhood dispute that the gunfire came from their complex. They said they were being harassed by the demonstrators and the shots came from people participating in the Pride Ride.
“They come, they watch them run through on their motorcycles, running red lights and throwing beer bottles. The police didn’t stop them or nothing,” said Ocala resident Jason Carter.
David Stone fought last week to get Marion County leaders to put the flag back up at the McPherson Governmental Complex.
He said that he wanted the Florida Southern Pride Ride to be a peaceful and silent show of support.
The ride started at 1 p.m. at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion on Jacksonville Road.
“This is my flag. It just mean(s) this is the South flag. Nothing against anybody. That’s just what I was raised under. I carry it with me all the time,” said Pride Ride attendee Bryan Williams.
Last week, Stone spoke out about the flag's removal and told commissioners about his plan to organize a rally.
“I have organized a peaceful motor ride, parade through Marion County,” Stone said. “This will get national attention.”
“You can't take this away. Next thing will be our gun right(s) we are not going to let that happen,” said Ocala resident Pat Stone.
On Saturday, officials said someone removed the flag and flagpole during a demonstration against the flag.
The items were found at the tax collector’s office and are now back up.
The county temporarily removed the Confederate flag from the display in June after nine people were fatally shot at a historic Charleston, South Carolina church. The flag was later reinstalled.
County leaders will meet in September to make a long-term decision on what to do with the flag.
Commissioner Earl Arnett said he is going to propose putting the county’s Confederate flag in a museum.