COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A Confederate flag controversy has erupted in Columbus after the city removed two flags and flagpoles from historic Linwood Cemetery this week.
The Benning Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans had been flying the First National Flag of the Confederacy over Linwood, but last week, they flew the Battle Flag of the Confederacy.
Last Friday, despite warnings from the city, the Benning Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans ran the battle flag up one of the two poles in Linwood Cemetery. Though the cemetery is owned by the city, the plots the poles were on is individually owned.
City officials say that the chapter violated a request not to use the flag, a request that had been honored for two years. After the battle flag was flown, actions were swift and City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to rescind a 1994 resolution that allowed a Confederate flag to fly over those who fought for the South during the Civil War.
The flag came down Tuesday, and the flagpoles were removed on Wednesday.
“So, we basically told them that was the one flag we did not want on there,” Mayor Skip Henderson said. “They flew it. So council rescinded that resolution and we very carefully removed the poles. We treated the flags with respect and their equipment. And we got it stored ready for them to pick up.”
News 3 reached out to the leadership of Benning Camp, Dennis Green, who referred all questions to Tim Pilgrim, the leader of the Georgia Division based in Macon. News 3 has not heard back from Mr. Pilgrim.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans had been negotiating with the city for several years over which flag to fly over Linwood. Those talks go back to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s tenure.
They continued when Henderson took office in January.
“So, we negotiated with them and tried to find options,” the mayor said. “I know the previous mayor gave them two flags they could choose from. We actually talked to them about three.”
Henderson said those options did not work for the Benning Camp.
“They submitted about eight for us to look at but about seven of those had a version of the battle flag on it,” he said.
Henderson says that the Sons of the Confederate Veterans have hired a Jonesboro attorney. Attempts to contact that lawyer, Kyle King, were unsuccessful.