A Confederate heritage group in Virginia has ignited controversy with its plans to display a confederate battle flag along an interstate highway as a way of honoring soldiers of the Civil War.
According to The Wall Street Journal,
the group Virginia Flaggers has leased private land along Interstate 95 near Richmond to raise a 12-by-15-foot Stars and Bars flag at the end of September and keep it there permanently, following the lead of similar groups in other southern states.
The move has agitated local politicians and the NAACP, who argue that the Confederate flag continues to be a symbol of slavery, segregation, and racial intolerance.
"I honor my ancestors but I'm not going to do that by flying a Confederate flag 150 years later," Jon Baliles, a Richmond city councilman, told the Journal. "I would like people going up and down [Interstate] 95 to know Richmond is a lot different than it used to be."
The local chapter of the NAACP and other opponents of the move told the Journal they are considering protests, a billboard near the flag opposing it, and calls for local governments to condemn the flag, among other options.
"We're not offending anybody," Barry Isenhour, a member of Virginia Flaggers, told the Journal. "My hope is people start revering people's rights to honor their ancestors." He also said he condemns any racist behavior associated with support of the flag, the Journal reported.
The Virginia Flaggers group
came about as a reaction to the removal of battle flags from historic sites and public parks in Virginia in recent years. The group is supported by private donations.
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