VA Flaggers join the Confederate fight

By: Danielle Battaglia
August 25, 2012

Last Sunday, a new group — the Virginia Flaggers — moved into Reidsville to protest the former site of the Reidsville Confederate Monument.

The Reidsville Confederate Monument was knocked down in May 2011 after a Greensboro man drove into the monument, which was located at the intersection of West Morehead and South Scales streets, striking the base of the monument, which sustained some damage, and knocking the soldier from the top of the base and shattering it.

The Virginia Flaggers aren’t from this area. They drove from Richmond, Va., to stand in the cold rain and protest. There reasoning was to raise awareness of what’s taking place with the monument and the anger they feel over the monument not being returned to its intersection.

“The shock and disbelief that when someone damages a 101-year-old Confederate Monument and it isn’t replaced, and that the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the city of Reidsville took action to move it to a cemetery in the back of town,” Susan Hathaway, one of the flaggers, said, “all over the country people are outraged.”

To Hathaway and the Virginia Flaggers, Confederate monuments, flags and other memorabilia is as important as other war memorials, because it’s a way to honor her ancestors who fought in the war. Hathaway pointed out the men who fought in the Civil War didn’t do it out of choice, but out of loyalty because North Carolina and Virginia called on them to do so.

Hathaway said there is a widespread need for political correctness, which includes removing all things Confederate-related from view.

“There are few uneducated people who want to remove it,” Hathaway said.  “This is the last vestige of honor and dignity. Pennies and nickels were scraped together by the ladies of the UDC to create this.”

Hathaway said people have become heated and it becomes hard to get information across but if people stopped to talk with them, they’d realize why they were there and what they were about.

Hathaway said they’re not a racist group. A couple walked past them with a child. Hathaway said the couple told their child, “Its OK, they’re not racist.”

Hathaway said the group always expects backlash from people uneducated about the flag, but being true to their own Southern heritage, Reidsville showed their hospitality to the group from Richmond, driving by giving them thanks and thumbs up, bringing them breakfast, snacks and water throughout the day.

“I can only think of three negative comments we heard on Sunday, but they’re not able to be repeated in a newspaper,” Hathaway said.

One other reason the group was protesting was because of a threat made by Reidsville Police Department, according to Hathaway. She said RPD told Jamie Funkhouser months ago he was not to step off a six inch slab of concrete which encompasses where the monument once stood. An officer told the group the same thing, Sunday, and threatened arrests if they disobeyed. When asked if they could stand on the sidewalks around the intersection, Hathaway said she didn’t know the answer.

RPD Chief Edd Hunt said the answer is yes, and he prefers it. Hunt said Ordinance 11-15 protects city vegetation so the group can not stand on the flowers planted in the flower bed. They also can’t stand on the bricks around the base of the monument because it’s not a real sidewalk and considered part of the road.

Hunt said twice, since the monument was knocked over, he has seen cars drive up and over the roundabout. This stopped when a planter was placed in the middle. However, tractor trailers often drive onto the bricks to get around the traffic-circle so this is about the protestors safety and not about keeping them on a six-inch piece of brick.

Hunt also addressed concerns seen on a blog recently, which said after Sunday’s protest flags were left behind and had been removed by RPD. Hunt said this was considered abandoned property left on city land, so they were removed, but the flaggers are more than welcome to come to the police station to pick them up.

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