NC county proposes limit on Confederate flag displays

The Confederate flags on display outside of the Haywood County Courthouse in Waynesville. (Nov. 20, 2012/FOX Carolina)
The Confederate flags on display outside of the Haywood County Courthouse in Waynesville. (Nov. 20, 2012/FOX Carolina)

Some small flags placed in front of a monument are having a large meaning to a number of Confederate groups in a western North Carolina county.

People passing by the county courthouse's Confederate monument Tuesday night saw it the Confederate flags and a wreath placed in front of the obelisk that honors whose who died for the Confederacy in the Civil war.

Ron Green freely admitted to placing some of the flags there.

"The Confederate flag is what we are known by and it's identifies us just as much as the Masons and their symbols," Green said. "They wouldn't want them taken away either."

But there is a new proposal being looked at by Haywood County commissioners that would place a limit on what could be placed at the monument. Commissioners said it came up after local groups kept Confederate flags there for longer than they were supposed to.

"We (have) the memorial on the courthouse lawn, we don't have a problem with that," said Commissioner Michael Sorrells. "It's just that the battle flag is a divisive figure in certain populations."

The policy being considered states, "At no point shall the Confederate Battle flag be displayed on Haywood County Grounds."

But the First National Flag of the Confederacy would be allowed. It's different in appearance from the Confederate Battle Flag, and it would fly on Confederate Veterans Day, May 10.

"The policy was a little more strict than what we were hoping for," said Derrick Shipman, Commander of the Haywood County Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

"We're absolutely abiding by what we've always abided by, so it's a little puzzling to us that it's gotten so much publicity," said Sorrells.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans said they're trying to work a compromise out with the county, though other groups say the flag should fly whenever and wherever.

"I think you have a backbone of people still in this county that has Confederate ancestry that's going to support the Confederate flag," said Green.

Haywood County commissioners are set to take up the issue again Dec. 17.

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