Confederate re-enactors pepper sprayed during parade in NC

NEWTON, N.C. — Tension continues to mount nationwide over Confederate statues and monuments, and Thursday morning, President Donald Trump defended the statues, tweeting, “You can’t change history.”

Thousands filed into Newton Thursday afternoon for the 128th annual Soldiers Reunion Parade.

During the parade, one man with a gun was taken into custody, according to WSOC. Witnesses say the man went over to some Civil War re-enactors and pepper sprayed them.

The Civil War re-enactors and members of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans were protecting a Confederate monument at the old courthouse.

Two parade participants notified police that a man with pepper spray was following the Confederate veteran re-enactors.

The two complainants said that when the re-enactors would stop to discharge their weapons, the man would use his pepper spray.

The suspect was described and pointed out to law enforcement, who immediately took the suspect into custody without incident.

“He just walked up to the backside of the fellas that were fixing to do the salute,” said witness Amanda Chandler.

Karl Smith, 56, of Morganton, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and was released. He promised he would appear before a magistrate.

Police seized a small canister of pepper spray and a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver from Smith. Smith had a valid conceal carry permit for the firearm.

Two victims were treated for pepper spray exposure by Newton Fire Department and Catawba County EMS.