Civil War re-enactors and the National Parks Service are bracing for Anti-Confederate—and Antifa—protests July 4th weekend as Gettysburg battlefield and memorial in Pennsylvania celebrates the 154th anniversary of the pivotal battle.
According to local media, rumors are swirling that several groups affiliated with anti-Confederate monument protests across the south are targeting the Civil War battlefield. That site hosts its own Confederate memorial and Confederate cemetery, alongside more than a thousand other memorials marking one of the bloodiest battles in American history.
A Civil War re-enactor forum claimed that a Facebook page appeared last week, calling on Antifa groups near Gettysburg to gather during the anniversary celebration to desecrate Confederate Gettysburg graves, and burn Confederate flags. A local blog also reported threats from “Antifa”-linked protest groups, and an event on a local website called “Burn the Confederate Flag to Trigger Trump Fans.”
Both the Facebook pages and the event appear to have been scrubbed. Even so, protesters on both sides of the debate over whether America should embrace the Confederate Flag have squared off at Gettysburg before, so the National Parks Service is taking the rumors seriously.
These same groups have also clashed numerous times in the last several months, as anti-Confederate activists have pushed to remove Confederate flags and monuments across the South—items they say provide undue honor to a legacy of racism.
Civil War historians and enthusiasts say they’ve long feared protests would move from monuments to memorials, cemeteries and battlefields.
Authorities at the Gettysburg National Military Park acknowledged that they could expect some protests, and will provide the necessary security to protect the public there for the anniversary celebration. They also said that there have been only three official requests made from groups looking to hold marches this weekend.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans and Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans will host traditional events associated with the Gettysburg anniversary, including full dress re-enactments. The Maryland Sons will also hold a memorial service for the Gettysburg fallen.
At least one other group, “Real 3% Risen” says they will show up to the anniversary event just in case Antifa does appear. Facebook lists a whole host of other, unlicensed events, like “Free Speech Rally” and “STOP THE ANTI AMERICAN PROTEST IN GETTYSBURG.”
If Antifa shows up, these event organizers say they’re prepared to face off. “If they want to start a war, you don’t go to Gettysburg, and you do not do it at the national battlefield,” one organizer told local media.