Georgia County Votes to Keep Confederate Battle Flag Flying

A Georgia county’s board of commissioners has voted to keep the Confederate flag flying at the local courthouse, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

While the Dixie battle cross was removed from the state flag in 2003, it has continued to fly at the Dodge County courthouse in Eastman, Ga., as part of a memorial to Confederate war dead.

The NAACP chapter in Eastman, which is 50 miles southeast of Macon, says the flag was to fly only once a year, but it has stayed at the courthouse despite the civil rights group’s complaints. The NAACP is ready to mount a legal challenge to have the flag taken down, according to the paper.

"It's a symbol of racism and hatred," John Battle, president of the Dodge County NAACP, told the Journal-Constitution. After trying for years to resolve the matter and getting nowhere, the NAACP retained an attorney who sent a letter last week to the board of commissioners asking them to stand by the original resolution, passed in 2002, allowing the annual display.

On Monday, the board met in a closed session and decided, in a vote taken at their public meeting afterward, to keep the flag up 365 days a year.

Commissioner William Howell, Jr., who cast one of three votes in favor of displaying the flag, said the commission's hands were tied.

"We're probably going to be involved in a lawsuit either way," Howell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The Sons of Confederate Veterans is going to sue us if we take it down and the NAACP will sue us if we leave it up."

According to the paper, Howell cited a state law that he said prohibits the commissioners from removing appropriate items from publicly owned memorials.

Click to read more on the Confederate flag debate from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution