Lexington Flag Case, Reidsville Monument Updates
Oral arguments were held Wednesday in the Virginia SCV’s appeal to reinstate their lawsuit against the City of Lexington, that had been dismissed by the district court last year. There are several news items about this, but the only one I’ve seen that describes events in the courtroom is this item from the Washington Post and the AP:
The Southern heritage group contends the city snuffed its speech and violated a 20-year-old court order when it enacted an ordinance in September 2011 banishing its flags from holders on dozens of city light poles, other than the city, state and U.S. flags. The three judges of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which seemed skeptical of the appeal, typically rule in several weeks or more. The group is appealing a decision last summer by a federal judge who concluded the ordinance did not violate a 1993 consent decree, which blocked the city’s attempt to ban the display of the Confederate flag during a parade honoring Jackson. The 2011 ordinance does not restrict the flying of the flag elsewhere in the city. You can still march down Main Street with the flag? Judge Robert King asked. “You can still do that,” replied Thomas E. Strelka, representing the SCV. Strelka argued, however, that the ordinance had “closed a public forum” and the city’s action appeared to be directed at the group. Jeremy E. Carroll, representing the city, said Lexington has the right to say who can used city-owned light poles and the regulation “treats everybody the same.” Local colleges that used to use the poles to fly their banners are also prohibited from using the poles. City officials adopted the ordinance after they received hundreds of complaints after Confederate flags were planted in holders on light poles to mark Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday in Virginia. The flags were provided by SCV, and the city authorized them to be flown on the city poles. The SCV also paid for city workers to install the flags on approximately 40 poles.
My earlier thoughts on why the Virginia SCV is probably going to lose this one are here.
In other news, it looks like the Reidsville, North Carolina monument knocked down in an automobile accident two years ago is finally being restored, this time in the Confederate veterans’ plot at the local cemetery, owned by the UDC. The question of who owned the monument itself has been central in the dispute over whether to restore at its previous location or move it to the cemetery, as the UDC wanted to do. Over time, though, challenges to ownership of the monument seem to have fallen away:
The UDC claimed ownership of the monument shortly after it fell. The city searched for records saying otherwise and never found any. Traveler’s Insurance Company, who represents Vincent, paid the UDC $105,000. The UDC said it planned to use the money to recreate the soldier for the monument and use the original base as the platform. City officials helped the UDC find a new location for the monument. The city deeded a plot of land in Greenview Cemetery to the UDC years prior. The plot houses the body of Confederate soldiers. The Confederate monument continues to be a controversial issue in the community. After the 2011 earthquake, a group, the Historical Preservation Action Committee formed to ensure the monument returned to its original location in the South Scales and West Morehead Streets intersection. In December 2011, the UDC made an announcement it planned to move the monument to the cemetery. HPAC filed a lawsuit against the UDC and the city to stop the monuments removal. The lawsuit included the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources as well. HPAC dropped the city and the UDC from the lawsuit. Davidson County Superior Court Judge Mark Klass dismissed the case citing the organization lacked standing to bring it forward. Rockingham County Judge Moses Massey dismissed the case as well.
Naturally, the usual crowd is furious about this development, in the comments section. But there’s also this little gem of information, that I hadn’t been aware of before:
It remains unclear when the soldier might be installed. In a February interview, Ezell said there wasn’t a timetable to install the new soldier. She did add that this soldier would have a Confederate uniform. The previous monument’s designer outfitted the soldier in Union attire.
You really can’t make this stuff up.