Battle renews in Ringgold case as depositions begin

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Southern Legal Resource Center eU P D A T E

Battle renews in Ringgold case as depositions begin

RINGGOLD, GA – The legal battle over removal of a Confederate Battle Flag from a memorial display at Historic Ringgold Depot resumed Wednesday and Thursday as attorneys for both sides deposed witnesses in the local SCV camp’s lawsuit against the City.

On Wednesday, testimony was received from architect Ross Andrews, who designed the memorial display. Andrews said his plans, as approved by City Council, “included only one permanent flag … for the South – the Confederate Battle Flag.” (The Battle Flag was in integral part of the memorial when it was completed and dedicated, but was removed shortly thereafter, when local Black leaders objected and threatened a boycott if it were not removed.)

On Thursday, depositions were taken from Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright, Mayor Joe Barger, and City Councilman O. C. Adcock, all of whom were serving at the time of the flag’s removal. Also deposed were Paul Croft and Arthur Henderson, representatives of the local Black community. According to reports, Henderson told City Council at the time that continued flying of the Battle Flag at the Depot would be “political suicide” for Council members.

Depositions were conducted by atty. Steven Farrow, representing the defendants, and SLRC affiliate attorney and local counsel Martin K. O’Toole, of Marietta, for the plaintiffs, who are the Ringgold SCV camp and the SCV’s Georgia Division. SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk D. Lyons also attended.

The letter the Asheville paper wouldn’t print

On March 22, Dave Russell, Letters Editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, published a column entitled, “Confederate flag battles just aren’t worth the hassle anymore,” a muddled, rambling discourse in which Russell repeatedly harped on his own Southern-ness while at the same time proclaiming that the Confederate Battle Flag has been misappropriated by hate groups and has therefore become a symbol of hatred. Having expressed his opinion, Russell then admonished others not to “get all irate and preachy” on the subject and said the topic was one that editors “hate to see pop up on their opinion pages.”

Interestingly, Russell’s remarks did not seem to have been occasioned by anything. At the time, there had been no editorial-page debate about the Flag and no recent news had spotlighted it, SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie, himself an ex-newspaperman, stated that the Confederate Flag issue has become “instant copy material … a sure-fire solution for every tinhorn pundit facing a deadline with nothing else to write about.”

Over the next few days, the Citizen-Times published two well-written letters – both from SCV members – skillfully defending the Fag’s true meaning and pointing out the fallacy of abandoning the Flag because of isolated abuse. However, McCredie said, nobody seemed to have picked up on the manufactured nature of Russell’s argument, so he decided to do so himself. His reply to Russell, dated March 26, read as follows:

To the Editor:

Dave Russell’s remarks [March 22] to the contrary, politically correct editors dearly love to talk about the Confederate flag, provided they can do so on their own terms. They get to be as “irate and preachy” as they want; people who disagree with them, we are told, do not. That’s because the so-called Confederate flag controversy is in fact a put-up job — one of the broadest based and best executed negative PR campaigns in American history — spearheaded by an inherently hostile media establishment, a couple of greedy special interest groups, a cynical and avaricious Hollywood, and a gaggle of self serving politicians.

Because denouncing Confederate symbols now provides instant liberal street cred, legions of the ambitious, the malicious and the clueless have been leaping aboard this bandwagon, so that it has morphed into a runaway train. Southerners have been fired from their jobs, expelled from their schools, defamed, assaulted and even killed for displaying a flag that one former U.S. president has called “a legitimate American icon.”

Sort of makes you wonder which direction all this alleged hate is actually coming from.

Roger W. McCredie Executive Director

The Southern Legal Resource Center

The Citizen-Times did not publish McCredie’s letter. “As is often the case, what they didn’t publish is as significant as what they did,” McCredie said.

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