Update on the Ringgold Depot Flag Dispute

Click here to start at the beginning of this series

The Ringgold Depot is on Nashville Street in Ringgold, Ga.
Photo by Angela Lewis Foster, retrieved from timesfreepress.com

It appears the nine year dispute over the Confederate Battle Flag will have to wait a little bit longer. Superior Court Judge Kristina Cooke Graham pushed the case scheduled for today back to November 4. According to Ray McBerry, Division Commander of the Georgia SCV, a definitive reason for the delay has not been established. It appears to be more of the same in the ongoing saga. 

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Attorneys from both sides won’t say why this case has gathered dust for six years, but an SCV leader hinted that the two sides might reach a settlement before trial.” McBerry said the Ringgold SCV camp would drop the lawsuit if the city council agreed to fly the Second National Flag of the Confederacy. Of course, if the case goes to court, McBerry asserts that only the Battle Flag will suffice. Apparently the Battle Flag is not that important when it comes to a plea bargain, but if they go to court, the SCV will go for broke to rub it in everyone’s faces.

This ongoing scuffle has continued since the memorial platform was added to the plans in 2003-4. At that time, the city council agreed to the idea, but decided the SCV should pay for the memorial bricks. This absolved the Ringgold community from having to fund it. The council pushed forward with blank bricks, allowing the SCV to replace those through their own efforts later on. This allowed renovations to continue without having to wait on fundraising efforts by the SCV. After the completion of the memorial and renovations, the city council flew four flags around the depot: a current Georgia State Flag (Which has changed since it was first flown); a current U.S. flag; an 1863 U.S. Flag; and a Confederate Battle Flag.

The flag dispute began in 2005, which I will explore more in depth in future posts. To summarize, in 2005 local residents of the black community and members of the NAACP complained about the battle flag. The city council voted to take the flag down, 3-2, and replaced it with the Hardee Corp flag. In 2008, the SCV filed a lawsuit against the city council claiming city officials broke Georgia law.  In its defense, city attorneys argue that the city has not broken Georgia law; the SCV just doesn’t understand the law. Something we’ve seen many times before. (Lexington, VA anyone?)

depot 2

City Mayor Joe Barger will not comment on the ongoing litigation. Kirk Lyons, attorney for the Southern Legal Resource Center, claims Ringgold attorneys “have dragged their feet since 2008.” McBerry also rejects claims from Ringgold’s black community that the battle flag carries racial connotations, stating:

“The South didn’t leave the Union because of anything to do with slavery…That issue was fabricated by President Lincoln as a political measure after the war was half over. … But it has nothing to do with the fact that federal law and Georgia law makes no differentiation between the U.S. flag and the Confederate flags….Everyone is going to abide by it whether they like it or not.”

Interesting statement considering Georgia specifically stated its reasons for secession, long before Lincoln came into office. Those reasons can be found here. Spoiler alert, it mentions slavery quite a lot. I’ve noticed this story is picking up more and more traffic on the internet and among different Southern Heritage proponents. I’m hoping this does not develop into an all out “flagging.” I’d rather see the city spared of that ignorant rabble. Of course, the last time someone “flagged” the depot, it didn’t really draw that much attention.



Tyler Jett, “Fight Over Rebel Battle Flag Drags on in Ringgold,” The Chattanooga Times Free Press, (July 24. 2014), Chattanooga, TN., [retrieved from:  http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2014/jul/24/fight-over-rebel-battle-flag-drags-on-in-ringgold/?local].

Adam Cook, “Court Hearing Over Ringgold Flag Dispute Delayed Until November,” Catoosa County News, (July 24, 2014), Ringgold,  GA, [retrieved from: http://www.northwestgeorgianews.com/catwalkchatt/news/court-hearing-over-ringgold-flag-dispute-delayed-until-november/article_a8c1075c-1366-11e4-b831-001a4bcf6878.html].

Confederate States of America – Georgia Secession – http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_geosec.asp

11 thoughts on “Update on the Ringgold Depot Flag Dispute

    1. Hello Dav. This comment is sort of against my comments policy on the “About Me” page. I need to remember to make it a point to clarify that in the comments box below.

      To answer your question, I’ll pose a question: Why should I put you on my blog list?

      1. Golly Gosh Rob, it must be interesting seein as you are my #1 visitor.
        About 1100 visits, and if it’s that interesting maybe ya wanna share it !
        Or not !

  1. The difference between Lexington Va 2011 and Georgia 2005/2008/2014 is the laws on the books, or more to the point – the ACLU agreement between the City of Lexington 1993, and Gov Roy Barnes HB16 of 2001.
    It was a longshot in Lexington – the Flaggers stated as much about the flag ban ordinance imposed in Sept 2011. However, Barnes HB16 (now Ga Code 50 – 3 – 1 ) states you cant simply tear down a memorial so dedicated because of an aggrieved few. They are thus protected by law.
    McBerry is right – the also under Ga Law, the Flags of the USA, Georgia, and CSA are equal in regards to protections afforded and laws applied.
    As an aside, the current sitch in Lexington (Lee Chapel) has folks comparing the Chapel memorial specifically created to General RE Lee in 1930 to 2 laws protecting such memorials under the Commonwealth Code of Virginia. This time it isn’t a longshot. Both there and in Ringgold the laws are very clear

    1. Thanks for commenting Billy. Sadly, I think it is still a long shot. HB 16 (2001) amends Article 1 of Chapter 3 of Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia. It addresses the state flag and, preservation and protection of certain public monuments and memorials. The specific part you are referring to comes from Section 1:b of that act:

      (b)(1) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, or other entity to mutilate, deface, defile, or abuse contemptuously any publicly owned monument, plaque, marker, or memorial which is dedicated to, honors, or recounts the military service of any past or present military personnel of this state, the United States of America or the several states thereof, or the Confederate States of America or the several states thereof, and no officer, body, or representative of state or local government or any department, agency, authority, or instrumentality thereof shall remove or conceal from display any such monument, plaque, marker, or memorial for the purpose of preventing the visible display of the same. A violation of this paragraph shall constitute a misdemeanor.
      (2) No publicly owned monument or memorial erected, constructed, created, or maintained on the public property of this state or its agencies, departments, authorities, or instrumentalities in honor of the military service of any past or present military personnel of this state, the United States of America or the several states thereof, or the Confederate States of America or the several states thereof shall be relocated, removed, concealed, obscured or altered in any fashion; provided, however, that appropriate measures for the preservation, protection, and interpretation of such monuments or memorials shall not be prohibited.
      (3) Conduct prohibited by this subsection shall be enjoined by the appropriate superior court upon proper application therefor.

      (c) Any other provision of law notwithstanding, the memorial to the heroes of the Confederate States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall never be altered, removed, concealed, or obscured in any fashion and shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.”

      Just to spend time on McBerry’s argument, because city attorneys are not divulging very much information, flags are not identified as monuments in code. Nor is there precedent in the state to suggest otherwise. If this is vagueness, that will work in favor of the defendant (city) over the plaintiff. What the attorneys do argue is fairly spot on. Flags themselves are not the monuments, nor did the SCV pay for the flags or the poles. Additionally, the state does not own the memorial making it a city owned entity.

    2. I disagree about the situation in Lexington. The Lee Chapel is not state grounds, but rather private. I think the flags are gone. In fact, the lawsuit in Georgia looks to me to be a great place to firmly establish the facts about the cause of the CW. The wording begs for it.

  2. The “Hardee” pattern flag is a fine compromise; the GA state flag is effectively the Confederate First National and flying an additional flag –with Old Glory completing the vexillological trio– to represent & honor Southern defense by Cleburne seems fitting. The SCV and our country’s public may be better served by instead funding the correction of the typos on the paving stones leading up to the current Hardee flagpole: at least three of Cleburne’s brigade commanders’ names are spelled incorrectly. (I recall Granbury and Lowrey, the third typo escapes me).
    I believe that every participant, Reb and Yankee, in the Ringgold Gap fight would state that “the Confederate battle flag’ is already flying there now. That is the little blue flag of Cleburne’s division.

    1. I think we can all agree with that. I am holding off on anymore posts concerning this issues until I can finish my thesis and head back home to Ringgold for a bit. I want to get some shots of the depot, I’ll be sure to look lookout for that third typo.

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