By Brian Ives
Three years ago, Gary Rossington, a founding member of iconic Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, made a bold statement. The band, he said, were no longer going to use the Confederate flag in their merchandise because hate groups had “kidnapped” it.
“Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers,” Rossington told CNN. The decision, he said, was to avoid associating their music and their fans with any of “the race stuff” or “the bad things” associated with the flag. “We’re proud to be American,” Rossington said, explaining that they were more comfortable displaying the American flag.
At the time, such a proclamation didn’t go over well with their fans (“Imposters, frauds, fakes, wannabes, shadows, skeletons, posers,” ran one of many comments). And the band eventually backpedaled a bit.
Today, however—in the days after the tragic hate crime in Charleston, S.C. that left nine churchgoers dead—Lynyrd Skynyrd are not the only ones looking to distance themselves from the flag.