Note: we are republishing this story amid a nationwide conversation about race and racial justice in America.
Susan DeRose, owner of Buckhead’s OK Café, decided to remove a banner and flag that were hanging at her restaurant.
Witnesses clapped when the Georgia flag was taken down on Friday. The banner and flag have been called “offensive” over the years, but they have remained in the restaurant for over 30 years.
When asked why she decided to finally remove the flag, DeRose responded: “I thought, ‘Well, I’m just going to take it down. We’re going to auction it off because I understand it offends people.’ So I’m going to take it down and we’re going to give the money to the police force.”
Isabel Johnson, a student at Georgia Tech and leader of Buckhead for Black Lives, stated that she was happy to see the flag removed.
She said: “I’m glad that it’s a good gesture in the right direction. I’m glad to see that steps are being taken to kind of reform the restaurant and to make it a little bit more friendly for everyone.”
Johnson and others saw a sign and tea party stand in front of the restaurant as they marched through Buckhead on Sunday. The sign, which read: “Lives that matter are made with positive purpose,” was later taken down.
For decades, the flag has been the center of controversy.
Farmer asked DeRose why she was finally taking it down, and she responded: “I have it up because it means a lot to me. It means a lot to me about what happened in 1964 when women got the civil rights. I realize a lot of people don’t agree with that and some people have been calling saying they’re going to burn us down. I thought, ‘Well, I’m just going to take it down.’”
Former state Sen. Vincent Fort maintained that he was not satisfied with the move: “This has been a calculated attempt to insult black people, not just black people, but their allies, because there are a lot of white folks that have seen this and say, ‘Hold it.’ These guys have been so calculated, so offensive for so long that I’m not willing to give them a break.”
Speaking about DeRose’s plan to auction the flag, Fort stated: “We’ve been trying to get them to do the right thing and I’m not convinced that taking down the symbol and giving the money to the police is the right thing (or) the only thing that they should be doing.”
Johnson stated that removing the flag was a step in the right direction. “I think it's a good first gesture but I think a lot more needs to be done in reforming how people are treated,” she said.
Sources: WSB-TV Atlanta