Vanessa Croft was driving home after work in Gadsden, Alabama last month when she noticed something strange in her rear-view mirror. There were two huge flags bearing the starred cross of the Confederacy fluttering angrily behind her from the back of a menacing black pickup truck.
She had seen plenty of Confederate flags – almost every day she spots them on car licence plates or in windows in town. But this was different. It was after midnight, and as she drove the flags stayed behind her. She drove some more, they followed.
She turned into a McDonald’s, hoping that its surveillance cameras would protect her – they turned too, drawing up alongside her. Inside the truck were two white men who sat and stared at her. Croft, a 57-year-old black woman, stared back.
The truck kept trailing her all the way to her street, then disappeared as suddenly as it had come. But a chill lingered. “Two huge Confederate flags flapping in the night following me home. In Gadsden. In 2018. It still happens.”