COLUMBUS, GA. (WRBL)–The Sons of Confederate Veterans are preparing to sue the city of Columbus because it took down the Confederate Battle Flag flying over Historic Linwood Cemetery two weeks ago.
The flags and poles were removed by the city on October 23. That was the day after Columbus Council voted to rescind a 25-year-old resolution that permitted the flag to fly in the city-owned cemetery.
Sons of Confederate Veterans Georgia Division spokesman Martin O’Toole tells News 3 that the planned lawsuit will be filed before the end of the month.
O’Toole is not a member of the local Benning Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The local group has referred all questions to the state leadership.
“Basically, there will be two assertions made,” O’Toole said. “The major one, the first one, is a violation of the official code of Georgia, annotated section 50-3-1 that protects memorials. We believe that the city has violated that by the removal of the flagpoles. Flags were specifically mentioned in that statute. The second one will be breach of contract.”
O’Toole calls this a Heritage issue and points out there is an ongoing federal lawsuit by his organization against the city of Alpharetta over Battle Flags in a public parade.
Mayor Skip Henderson says the city gave the Sons of Confederate Veterans multiple options but drew the line at the Confederate battle flag.
In an agreement reached a couple of years ago, the Sons of Confederate Veterans had been flying the first flag of the Confederacy, which did not include the Battle Flag.
When that Battle Flag was raised over Linwood on October 18th, the legal battle was on.
The contract that O’Toole is talking about is a 1994 city resolution that allowed the flags to fly over Linwood. That resolution did not restrict the Confederate Battle Flag.