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Hartselle Enquirer

Locals react to Confederate flags removed from Capitol

A week after a white man shot and killed nine people in a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., Governor Robert Bentley ordered the Confederate flag be removed from the state Capitol grounds.

According to area news reports, the Confederate flag was quietly removed from the Capitol building by workers shortly after 8 a.m. Wed., June 24.

Bentley was asked if he ordered the flags be removed shortly afterward, and he affirmed that he had made the call to take them down. An article from the Huffington Post quoted Bentley saying it was “the right thing to do.”

Bentley reportedly made the decision, in part, because of the accused Charleston gunman Dylann Storm Roof’s proud display of the Confederate flag. He was also quoted saying he didn’t want the flag’s presence at the Capitol to become a distraction during budget and other matters that are more pressing.

Other Confederate-era flags were removed from the grounds in addition to the Confederate battle flag.

Much like national opinion, the area opinion was mixed on the matter.

Some agreed with Bentley’s actions, saying that they also felt the Confederate flag was becoming a distraction.

Others felt that people are wrongly associating the flag with racism and the flag is not being viewed properly in its historical context.

Hartselle native Randy Love said he thought taking the flag down was a good idea.

“I grew up in Hartselle around the time of integration, so I know how some people view it offensively,” Love said. “I think it’s sad that it takes a tragedy like the one in Charleston to change the way we see things. A lot of people feel strongly about the Confederate flag, and if the possibility exists that we are going to offend someone, I don’t think we should display it. That goes for anything that might be offensive. If we could help prevent another tragedy, by all means we should take the flag down. It has it’s proper place in history like museums, but I think too many people associate it with racism to be displaying it on the Capitol.”

Hartselle Historical Society member David Burleson said he partially agrees with Bentley’s decision.

“In my opinion, based on Bentley’s remarks about the flag becoming a distraction, I have to agree it was best to remove it,” Burleson said. “But I feel the state and federal government has a responsibility to accurately represent the war between the states. I once heard it put by a historian that the causes of the Civil War were as numerous as trees in a forest. Slavery is just one of those trees, but it is the tallest, so it draws the most lightning. Nobody wants to talk about the true causes of the Civil War anymore, and they don’t take into account that thousands of African Americans served in the Confederacy. Both sides need to really study the war and discover the real causes of it. To some it will always be a symbol of oppression, but so is the American flag to some. There’s no need to take down Confederate monuments, but there is a need to educate the American people on their history.”

Raeshaun Jones said she had more of an issue with the way people were handling the decision than she does with the flag.

“Even as an African American girl growing up in the South, the Confederate flag means nothing to me to be honest,” Jones said. “It’s upsetting how this symbol that’s not even a representative of our state anymore is tearing us apart as a state and as a nation. We are all Alabamians and Americans. The Confederate flag doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not being used maliciously. I’ll be happy as long as the Alabama state flag flies by the American flag.”

A week after a white man shot and killed nine people in a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., Governor Robert Bentley ordered the Confederate flag be removed from the state Capitol grounds.

According to area news reports, the Confederate flag was quietly removed from the Capitol building by workers shortly after 8 a.m. Wed., June 24.

Bentley was asked if he ordered the flags be removed shortly afterward, and he affirmed that he had made the call to take them down. An article from the Huffington Post quoted Bentley saying it was “the right thing to do.”

Bentley reportedly made the decision, in part, because of the accused Charleston gunman Dylann Storm Roof’s proud display of the Confederate flag. He was also quoted saying he didn’t want the flag’s presence at the Capitol to become a distraction during budget and other matters that are more pressing.

Other Confederate-era flags were removed from the grounds in addition to the Confederate battle flag.

Much like national opinion, the area opinion was mixed on the matter.

Some agreed with Bentley’s actions, saying that they also felt the Confederate flag was becoming a distraction.

Others felt that people are wrongly associating the flag with racism and the flag is not being viewed properly in its historical context.

Hartselle native Randy Love said he thought taking the flag down was a good idea.

“I grew up in Hartselle around the time of integration, so I know how some people view it offensively,” Love said. “I think it’s sad that it takes a tragedy like the one in Charleston to change the way we see things. A lot of people feel strongly about the Confederate flag, and if the possibility exists that we are going to offend someone, I don’t think we should display it. That goes for anything that might be offensive. If we could help prevent another tragedy, by all means we should take the flag down. It has it’s proper place in history like museums, but I think too many people associate it with racism to be displaying it on the Capitol.”

Hartselle Historical Society member David Burleson said he partially agrees with Bentley’s decision.

“In my opinion, based on Bentley’s remarks about the flag becoming a distraction, I have to agree it was best to remove it,” Burleson said. “But I feel the state and federal government has a responsibility to accurately represent the war between the states. I once heard it put by a historian that the causes of the Civil War were as numerous as trees in a forest. Slavery is just one of those trees, but it is the tallest, so it draws the most lightning. Nobody wants to talk about the true causes of the Civil War anymore, and they don’t take into account that thousands of African Americans served in the Confederacy. Both sides need to really study the war and discover the real causes of it. To some it will always be a symbol of oppression, but so is the American flag to some. There’s no need to take down Confederate monuments, but there is a need to educate the American people on their history.”

Raeshaun Jones said she had more of an issue with the way people were handling the decision than she does with the flag.

“Even as an African American girl growing up in the South, the Confederate flag means nothing to me to be honest,” Jones said. “It’s upsetting how this symbol that’s not even a representative of our state anymore is tearing us apart as a state and as a nation. We are all Alabamians and Americans. The Confederate flag doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not being used maliciously. I’ll be happy as long as the Alabama state flag flies by the American flag.”

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