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Confederate flags in Canton parade spark outrage

It seems the Confederate battle flag was flown -- without permission -- in a local Labor Day parade, and town officials said it won't happen again. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The controversy over the Canton Labor Day parade and Confederate flags has taken a turn.

Canton officials originally said they thought someone sneaked the flags in toward the end of the parade line. But the drivers of three pick-up trucks involved said they did not sneak into the event, that they were authorized to be there by organizers.

Town officials said that is likely true, but applications do not specify how floats or other vehicles will be decorated.

Carmen Ramos-Kennedy, head of the Asheville-Buncombe branch of the NAACP, said when she and her husband arrived they saw the trucks displaying Confederate flags.

"I mean, my chest seized, and I'm thinking, 'these folks are lining up for the parade,'" Ramos-Kennedy, who is also part of a labor push called Raising Wages NC, said.

Ramos-Kennedy, whose float was entry No. 33, said the Confederate flags kept her from marching.

"It has brought murder and terrorism on black people," she said. "I cannot bear to be someplace where three huge flags, when I left, would've been flapping in the air, while I'm walking in the parade. That's insane. It is so turning to me that a city in an area near where I live would have let that flag be flown, particularly in light of how divisive it's been in this country recently."

Canton Town Manager Jason Burrell said the policy is that everyone must be checked by police as he or she enters the parade route.

"It's not the intent of the event or the town, and we apologize to anyone who was offended," Burrell said.

Burrell said officials will be more careful next Labor Day.

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