Chants of U-S-A, U-S-A, erupted from the crowd gathered to watch the Confederate Flag retired from the South Carolina statehouse.
Uniformed highway patrol officers lowered the flag from it’s place next to a soldiers’ monument on the statehouse grounds shortly after 10 a.m. ET Friday, July 10. The state legislature finalized a bill on Thursday ordering its removal. Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill.
The Confederate Flag has come under increased debate since the killings of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S. C. Accused shooter Dylann Roof wore the Confederate flag on his shirt. In a video, he stated his intent was “to start a race war.”
Critics have said the flag is an endorsement of white supremacy, a symbol of racism, and the ensign of traitors.
Supporters have said it is symbol of history and Southern pride.
In the Fredericksburg area, the debate’s touchstone is the Virginia Flaggers display of a Confederate flag on private land along Interstate 95 in Stafford County — clearly visible to passing motorists. Virginia Flaggers said on Facebook it represents “Citizens of the Commonwealth who stand AGAINST those who would desecrate our Confederate Monuments and memorials, and FOR our Confederate Veterans.”
“Every time I have to drive by that racist flag on I-95, evidence that the evil of racism resides here in our community, I feel [this] anger,” wrote 28th District House of Delegates Candidate Kandy Hilliard.
Anthony Sanchez, writing in The Washington Post, called it “a hostile statement”.
Betsy Powers Armitage, whose great aunt was an original member of The Ladies’ Memorial Association of Fredericksburg said display of the flag by the ladies’ association at the Confederate Cemetery is not an idealization of the past. “It’s a part of our history, and it represents the bravery and devotion of the Southern boys,” she said.
“The Flag is a piece of cloth and it should not be able to divide any of us,” said Ronda Knight on Facebook. “Unity should not need a flag!! Staring at symbols and taking offense to them is sad. We as a people need to stand up and unite, not divide!”
Editor’s Note: Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This allows individuals to display whatever flag they want on personal property, including cars, cakes and shirts. However, the flag of the Confederate States of America did represent a group of people who declared war on the United States of America, who wanted to continue to enslave people who were not the same color as themselves, and who maltreated anyone of any color who opposed slavery. Therefore, the Confederate flag should not be displayed by government entities in the United States of America. Individuals and organizations who choose to display the flag should understand that some will see it as racism and traitorism — even if they themselves say it only represents history and their Southern heritage.
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