Beachgoers ripped for displaying Confederate flag in Evanston: ‘That flag right there is my swastika’

A protest is planned for Friday after LaShandra Smith-Rayfield confronted the group with the flag at Lighthouse Beach earlier this week.

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A screenshot from a video taken earlier this week in Evanston.

UPDATE: Protest calls out white silence after Confederate flag towel displayed on Evanston beach

After LaShandra Smith-Rayfield learned that a Confederate flag was seen at an Evanston beach, she dropped what she was doing to confront the group of white people displaying what she called “a racist symbol of hate.”

Smith-Rayfield, who is Black, admonished the group earlier this week as they sat near a towel emblazoned with the Confederate flag that hung on a fence lining Lighthouse Beach. The incident, which Smith-Rayfield posted to social media , has prompted a rebuke from Evanston’s mayor as well as protests in the affluent city on the North Shore.

“I can’t feel comfortable in my own neighborhood. … That flag right there is my swastika,” Smith-Rayfield said in the video, which was later deleted.

Smith-Rayfield declined to comment Thursday as she returned to the site of the incident with a couple dozen supporters.

At one point while the incident was taking place Wednesday, another beachgoer who Smith-Rayfield described as a “man of color,” attempted to intervene, saying he fought to defend the group’s right to display the Dixie flag.

“This is the United States of America, not the confederacy,” she shot back.

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Lashandra Rayfield stands next to a Black Lives Matter sign on Lighthouse Beach on Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Evanston, Ill.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

After unsuccessfully trying to buy the towel for $20, Smith-Rayfield ultimately left the beach and recorded a second video questioning why no one else stood up to the group.

“I live in a liberal suburb, quote-unquote. So if this is a liberal suburb, then get off your a---s and do something,” she said in the video, which was also taken down.

Later Wednesday, Smith-Rayfield said she felt “a little better” when she posted a now-deleted photo of a small contingent of protesters who showed up at the beach with Black Lives Matter signs and stayed until the group left.

Evanston resident Terri Turner returned to scene with Smith-Rayfield Thursday.

“I am a Jewish woman with mixed children, one of whom is LGBTQ, and that flag is against everything that I just said,” said Turner. “I brought my daughter with me yesterday and we were up until [2:30 a.m.] trying to process how heinous that was.

“And it was purposeful,” she added, noting that another protest at the beach is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Friday.

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty has also condemned the “display of hate” after first discrediting reports that a Confederate flag was on display at the beach and later offering an erroneous account of the incident.

“My apologies to Ms. Smith-Rayfield and others for not getting the complete story before I posted on Facebook,” Hagerty wrote Thursday on the social media platform. “Her courage and persistence is admirable and an example for all of us.”

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