Confederate group sues Georgia city to fly divisive flag at parade

Sons of Confederate Veterans is arguing that it has a First Amendment right to fly the Confederate battle flag at an event in Alpharetta, Ga., but a judge is mulling his decision

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A federal judge has stepped into a case in Alpharetta, Ga., outside of Atlanta to decide whether an organization can fly the Confederate battle flag at a veterans’ parade.

The judge is trying to figure out whether the Roswell Mills Camp 1547 Sons of Confederate Veterans has a First Amendment right to fly the Confederate flag at Alpharetta’s veterans’ parade on Saturday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

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Alpharetta spokesman James Drinkard told the AJC that the city was willing to allow the group to march, just without the flag, which is what happened last year.

Rick Leake, the organization’s committee chair, told the news organization that Alpharetta’s stance is wrong.

The group is “outraged that the city of Alpharetta imposed this on us,” said Leake, who submitted the group’s parade application.

Leake said the group has been flying the flag that many connect with support for slavery for almost 15 years and no one’s had any kind of problem with it. The city all of a sudden is claiming that the flag is divisive, Leake complained.

“It’s a lie that’s repeated incessantly … that the Confederate flag is racist,” Leake said.

The group wrote in its application in July that it is “dedicated to preserving the memory of our ancestors who served in the War Between the States and ensuring that the Southern view of that conflict is preserved.”

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The city responded in a letter the next day that it “cannot be ignored that the Confederate Battle Flag has become a divisive symbol that a large portion of our citizens see as symbolizing oppression and slavery rather than the service of the men and women who fought for what they considered, for a variety of reasons, to be their nation.”

After receiving the response, the group filed an emergency action in federal court on Wednesday, the AJC reported.