Goad Gatsby was sick of the Confederate protesters, a group called the Virginia Flaggers, being the loudest voice on Grove Avenue outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
So late last month, the 28-year-old cook and indie rapper packed up a mobile speaker, saddled up his adult tricycle and took to the street next to them with his own message: a play list of his favorite rap music and a sign that says "Not My Flag".
Gatsby says his protest was inspired by a Facebook post that denigrated rapper Kanye West.
"I thought, 'Man, conservative white people really hate Kanye West,'" he says. "So it just dawned on me, I should go down there and play Kanye West."
He says his goal is to not only annoy the flaggers — though he's done that — but also show out-of-town visitors that the five or six people standing around with 10 to 15 Confederate flags don't represent the city as a whole.
The flaggers are protesting of the removal a Confederate flag from the outside of a Confederate memorial chapel on the museum's grounds. The museum said the flag isn't historically accurate. The flaggers disagree and say they won't stop protesting until the museum puts it back.
Gatsby says his interactions with the flaggers are mostly cordial. He's had a few debates, but says now he prefers staying out of conversations with them. "They're like talking to a wall," he says. At their request, he's tried to show a few of them how to dance.
But he says they've also complained about the language in the music — he isn't playing radio-safe stuff. Along those lines, he says, a man approached him last Saturday, said he found the music offensive and kicked his speaker. A Richmond police spokeswoman says the 59-year-old Henrico man, Jackson Adkins, is wanted for misdemeanor property damage in connection to the incident.
Adkins, who couldn't be reached for comment, has ties to the Virginia Flaggers, but group spokesman Grayson Jennings says he hasn't been active with them for two years.
As for Gatsby, Grayson has some choice words: "This guy's a real fruit loop. He rides a tricycle, playing this vulgar music — I guess they call it music. … He's got a sign that says hip-hop is my heritage — that's about as asinine as it gets. He's a complete idiot."
But the group respects Gatsby's right to free speech, Jennings says.
And Gatsby says he plans to keep exercising it, at least for the foreseeable future: "I think playing music is the only sensible thing to do in this situation."