Group plans to counter the Confederate Battle flag over I-95

Posted at 11:58 AM, Sep 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-28 10:49:16-04

Confederate flag

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – The Virginia Flaggers plan to fly a Confederate Battle flag over Interstate 95 in Chesterfield on Saturday. The raising and dedication ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Over the summer, the group announced plans to fly the flag on a 50-foot pole on private land near the interstate.

“The flag will serve to welcome visitors and commuters to Richmond, and remind them of our honorable Confederate history and heritage,” Virginia Flagger Susan Hathaway wrote in a post on the Flaggers’ website.

Since the initial announcement, other groups have spoken out in hopes of dashing the Flaggers’ plan.

More than 23,000 people have signed an online petition “Say ‘NO’ to theI-95 Confederate Flag.

“As we progress through history, symbols change in meaning. Given the extreme controversy over this particular symbol, it does not serve as a positive representation of the city of Richmond, nor does it serve as a positive reminder of the South’s determination to keep the institution of slavery for their profit,” the petition states.

A representative for the county has said they have received complaints, but that there is no ordinance that will prevent the group from flying the flag. As of Friday night Chesterfield Police asked CBS 6 not to release the location.

But CBS 6 reporter Chelsea Rarrick did speak with James Eaton, who leased his property to the Virginia Flaggers. Eaton said he works with some of the members and they were looking for a location to raise the flag.

The idea of the flag has caused a lot of controversy but Eaton said he's not worried about it being on his property.

"What can they hurt over there? They can take the bees with them, there's a bunch of bees over there you don't want to get too close to it," he said.

Some who live near the site said they have some concerns with the flag being there as they believe it's a hurtful symbol.

"It seemed like they keep everything quiet until they get what they want and then that's what it is," said Franklin Nichols. Nichols' stepdaughter lives in eyesight of the controversial flag pole, and that has him worried about safety.

"Anybody riding up and down 95, if anybody starts shooting over here or anything it's going to come straight over here," he said.

But others say they can't wait for it to come up and told CBS 6 it's part of heritage and history.

"It makes me very proud," said Harry Rogers.

Thousands of other area residents feel very differently. This week @United_RVA launched on Twitter.

"The American flag represents us here in RVA. While a Confederate flag is being raised in our community, that doesn't define us," according to the Twitter account's profile.

As the campaign begins, the group has purchased a 25-foot-by-40-foot American flag for temporary display in RVA. The American flag is approximately four times larger than the I-95 Confederate flag, according to reports. United RVA said that Mayor Dwight Jones has arranged to fly this American flag temporarily from a crane next door to City Hall, starting this weekend.

“I’m not looking to refight battles of the past and I’m not interested in symbols that divide Richmond,” Mayor Jones said. “I’m interested in promoting symbols that unite people and would rather rally around the American flag than one that divides so many in our city.”

“We’re launching this campaign because we’re all motivated by something larger than simply opposing a divisive and hurtful symbol,” Kristen Konaté said. “We want to celebrate the spirit that draws us together, and the American flag is the only symbol that does that. When guests and visitors drive on I-95, we want them to see the one flag that welcomes people to Richmond—the American Flag.

Watch: Richmond reacts to controversial flag