A Georgia university shut down Friday as thousands of protestors swarmed the campus to honor the American flag.
Friday’s counter protest was in response to a viral video of an American flag being trampled at a Valdosta State University demonstration protesting racism.
The video shows Air Force veteran Michelle Manhart taking the flag away from three demonstrators who had been walking on it and refusing a police order to give it back. She was later banned from the campus.
Tensions continued to rise after police discovered a handgun in a backpack belonging to Eric Sheppard, who had been at the American flag walking demonstration at Valdosta State University. He has since fled.
Now, thousands of protestors have flooded the Valdosta college campus to show their support for the American flag, forcing administrators to cancel Friday classes to ensure public safety, university spokesman Andy Clark told Yahoo! News.
“That level of traffic and that many people will disrupt a lot of things in the city. We’re from an overall safety perspective looking to close the campus down today so they can have a peaceful rally.”
The rally, dubbed Flags Over Valdosta, drew hordes of people out to Valdosta college to line city streets and wave American flags. Many wore T-shirts saying, “Try walking on this flag,” according to NBC News.
The Georgia university was closed, classes cancelled and only essential personnel were asked to come to work Friday.
Valdosta State University has been under fire this week after the video of Manhurt being arrested surfaced on the internet.
The veteran, who is not a student at the school, can be heard telling the demonstrators the flag, “actually belongs to the entire United States,” according to the Inquisitr.
Meanwhile, Sheppard’s father made an impassioned plea to his son asking him to turn himself in, according to WCTV.
“Son, you know we love you, and have always taught you to do the right thing and to make wise decisions. Please make the right decision and turn yourself in to either the authorities, or to me, and we will handle this together.”
Local police briefly thought they had Eric cornered, but he wasn’t found.
Sheppard has been described as a terrorist against white people is on a YouTube video saying the American flag represents white racism that’s taking over the world.
“So when we step on that flag we are stepping on racism, white supremacy.”
[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]