Lexington Lee-Jackson parade organizers say Alt-Right groups not welcome

LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) - Saturday for the 19th year in a row, Lexington will host a parade for Lee - Jackson Day, organized primarily by local branch of The Sons of Confederate Veterans.

But this year, local police have put in more planning in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville. And parade organizers say they are also making changes.

For almost two decades, the Stonewall Brigade branch of the Sons of Confederate veterans have marked Lee-Jackson Day with a parade around Lexington.

But given last summer's violence in Charlottesville, everyone is on the defense.

"We don't want modern political movements and things of that nature that are either grasping for or against confederate history," said Communications Officer for the Stonewall Brigade Brandon Dorsey.

He said last year the group decided to take a more hard line approach on determining who would and would not be allowed to take part in the parade.

"We're here to commemorate the lives of Lee and Jackson and not use them as a political tool one way or the other," he said.

Dorsey said this year's event was affected in more ways than one by Charlottesville. During the symposium event on Friday, he said the guest speaker focused on the topic of preserving Confederate monuments.

At a recent press conference, the new chief of Lexington Police said they've done more planning and prep work for this year's parade.

"Are there any lessons learned? Absolutely there are lessons learned and we certainly took those lessons into account into our planning process," said Chief Sam Roman.

He also assured the public representatives from various law enforcement agencies would be one hand.

While Dorset said the Brigade didn't ask for more police, they are working closely with them.

"Hopefully we won't have any problems," he said, "but it's better to be prepared than not."

Friday afternoon, WDBJ7 received a tip that Jason Kessler, leader of the Unite the Right rally was planning to attend the parade.

Dorsey heard the same rumor and says they've made their position clear.

"His group and other Alt-Right groups are not welcome at the parade," he said, later adding, “If anyone is truly antifascist it’s Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.”