The ongoing national tension over Confederate statues and symbols escalated on Friday, when a liberal activist assaulted a Civil War re-enactor with pepper spray during an annual parade in Newton, North Carolina.
According to local news, the incident occurred during the 128th annual Soldiers Reunion Parade, when a 56 year-old man, identified as Karl Smith, walked over to a group of Civil War re-enactors and doused them in pepper spray.
The actors and other demonstrators were surrounding a Confederate War memorial on the steps of the local courthouse. Several people were injured and were treated by first responders on the scene.
Smith, who was also carrying a loaded .38 caliber revolver, was arrested by local police.
Residents and tourists who attended the parade insist the event has nothing to do with “hate,” saying the gathering celebrates the town’s history and culture.
“The people that understand the flag is not a hate group,” said one man, who told reporters he had been attending the event for years.
President Trump weighed-into the ongoing controversy surrounding Confederate memorials earlier this week, saying it was “sad” to see the removal of Civil War monuments throughout the country, and warned that statues of Jefferson and Washington may be next.