Confederate group under fire after Christmas parade controversy

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Controversy at the Christmas parade sponsored by Downtown Roanoke Incorporated has led them to re-evaluate which groups they allow to participate.

This year -- people who support the confederate flag showed up carrying guns and walked with the group Sons of Confederate Veterans, which made many feel unsettled.

Sons of Confederate Veterans President Mark Craig says his group has participated in the parade for around a decade and has never had a problem, but this year, a group of unregistered people, some on horseback, joined them in the parade open-carrying firearms.

Craig says his group always dresses in traditional Confederate uniforms or civilian outfits from the time-period, and many of the men do carry muskets, but he says this group of 25 people who joined them were not affiliated with his group, and were open-carrying handguns.

The NAACP filed a complaint with Downtown Roanoke Incorporated, saying the display was shameful and warrants a careful review of policies.

"They're demanding everybody take your guns, and bring your guns to the Christmas parade, and guns have no business being anywhere near the Christmas parade," said Roanoke NAACP President Brenda Hale.

Hale says she hopes the city will at least take the action of banning firearms from the parade in the future.

Downtown Roanoke Incorporated said it will be collecting information about the situation, and will consider completely banning the Sons of the Confederacy from marching in the future.

They have a meeting scheduled for next week, and plan to make a decision before the end of the year.