Silvia Cotriss, a former police sergeant in Roswell, Georgia, was fired for flying a Confederate flag outside her home. Cotriss is now suing the city and is represented in her lawsuit by the controversial Southern Legal Resources Center.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cotriss, who is a resident of Woodstock, Georgia, claims she did know the Confederate flag is offensive to some.
Cotriss is being represented by attorney David Ates of the Southern Legal Resources Center. The center considers “Confederate Southern Americans” the “most persecuted minority” in the the country.
The Confederate flag is “a way to honor [Cotriss’] Southern heritage and her late husband,” Cotriss’ freedom of speech lawsuit states. “A Confederate flag can communicate an array of messages, among them various political and historic points of view.”
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According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Kirk Lyons, who founded the SLRC, is a frequent defender of “heritage violations” against the Confederate flag, and is connected to various hate groups. He reportedly held his wedding at an Aryan Nations compound.
The SLRC has also described itself as "a non-profit legal foundation waging a counter-offensive to preserve Southern Heritage" and has called to end the “Ethnic Cleansing of Dixie.”
"The Southern Legal Resource Center is a nonprofit foundation that specializes in First Amendment issues for Southern heritage," Lyons once said. "The flag is a civil rights issue."
According to WSB, Cotriss’ lawsuit, which also names Roswell Police Chief Rusty Grant and City Administrator Katherine Love as co-defendants, for 10 years of pay, the cost of benefits and other damages.
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Following several high-profile police shootings in the U.S. in early 2016, Grant visited an African-American church just before the complaint against Cotriss was issued.
“For me the takeaway from Ferguson was that a lot of African-Americans don’t trust police officers and don’t see them as I did when I was growing up,” Grant told the congregation, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I honestly didn’t know that before. I was ignorant of that. Everyone needs to work to make things better.”