Click here to start at the beginning of this series
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?)
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