A Confederate heritage group’s plan to raise a large rebel battle flag near Richmond, Va. has many outraged, sparking a classic debate over freedom of expression.
Virginia Flaggers plans to raise a 12-foot by 15-foot “stars and bars” flag by Interstate 95 in Chesterfield County, south of Richmond, by Sept. 28, and leave it up indefinitely, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“This group may have the ‘right’ to do what they are planning; however, it does not mean that it is the ‘right’ thing to do,” Shroeder Konate, author of an online petition on MoveOn.org opposing the Confederate group’s decision, wrote in an email to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The group defends the decision by saying it will simply honor Confederate soldiers, and that it opposes any use of the flag as a racist symbol.
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However those against the flag’s display argue that the banner is a symbol of slavery and can still stir up racial tensions. Among opponents of Virginia Flaggers’ decision are local politicians and The National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The online petition on MoveOn.org was started in August has generated over 23,000 signatures.
“We should, in this day and age, be hanging the American flag, not a flag representative of brutality for all to see while passing by Richmond on I-95,” the MoveOn.org petition reads. “This flag does not serve to be better the community as a whole, nor society.”
The Flaggers have remained firm on their decision and movement in trying to re-establish the presence of an emblem they argue deserves "a hallowed place in U.S. history," reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
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The group argues that the signatures only represent a fraction of the city’s residents if they were all from Richmond and many signers are from out of town.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Richmond Times-Dispatch, MoveOn.org