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Dixie Display Creates Dismay

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  • southron84
    Dixie display creates dismay By KIMBERLY LONG The Fulton Sun Above is a Confederate flag attached to a 1964 Honda on top of the Progressive Bike Works
    Message 1 of 1 , May 12, 2004
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      Dixie display creates dismay
      By KIMBERLY LONG
      The Fulton Sun


      Above is a Confederate flag attached to a 1964 Honda on top of the
      Progressive Bike Works business, located at 1303 S. Business 54.
      (Fulton Sun/Colin E. Suchland photo)

      More than a century after the end of the Civil War, the Confederate
      flag still provokes controversy when flown.

      Last Thursday, the owner of Progressive Bike Works, located at 1303
      Business 54 South, mounted a Confederate flag atop his business.

      The flag has since evoked disapproving responses from local black
      residents, plus rekindled a similar incident at the Callaway County
      Courthouse.

      Two local residents - both male, and both black - contacted The
      Fulton Sun last Saturday, stating they were offended by the flag.
      They also said they wondered why the owner would display something
      so offensive.

      On Tuesday, the flag still was flying.

      Bike shop owner Harley Bruce defended his right to display it,
      stating as a Georgia native the flag is "a symbol of my heritage."

      Local black community leaders, however, entertain a different
      attitude.

      Fulton NAACP president Jack McBride said the star-studded bars
      symbolize "oppression, hatred, revolting barbarity and shame."

      "The history of the flag is related to cross burnings and other hate-
      related actions that are symbolic of hate groups and citizens who
      seek to terrorize, intimidate and incite violence," McBride said

      McBride also recalled a similar incident where a fraternity group
      from Westminster College replaced the American flag at the Callaway
      County Courthouse with a Confederate Flag, and how a former county
      judge backed the movement by reading a proclamation honoring the
      action.

      In that instance, McBride said the flag was removed the day
      following the ceremony, after he responded with letters to the
      college, Callaway County Commissioners and to the editor of the then
      Kingdom Daily Sun Gazette, which printed McBride's reply in its May
      8, 1984, edition.

      His letter prompted an apology from the Westminster fraternity and
      administration, but not from the county court officials - which made
      him feel that the officials were insensitive to the feelings brought
      about by the flag's presence.

      "The Confederate flag is a symbol of the worst hypocrisy that ever
      existed in America," McBride noted. "And this is something that the
      NAACP would hope would not be a part of Fulton and Callaway County."

      Bruce said he "is not a racist by any means," and that the flag is
      his connection to the South.

      Originally, there were two flags flying from Bruce's business - the
      Confederate Flag and an American Flag, which he said was tattered by
      recent inclement weather.

      "I didn't do this as a racist remark," Bruce said, standing outside
      his shop. Reiterating his stance, Bruce added, "My next door
      business owner is an African American ... hell my dog is even black."

      The neighboring business, 54 Auto Sales, is owned by Fulton resident
      Lewis C. Moore, who when asked stated his dislike for the display.

      Discovering Moore's feelings, Bruce said, "if people are offended by
      it in this community, I will take it down."

      Apparently, Bruce is not the only Fulton resident that views the
      flag as non-offensive.

      Fulton resident Richard Hopkins, a black man and clerk at a downtown
      black-owned business, views Bruce's actions as "a cry from the
      dinosaurs."

      "We all know that the South lost the war, so if he wants to hang on
      to the legacy of those who helped fight the war, then so be it."

      To deny Bruce that right, would be repeating history, Hopkins said.

      "I lived in Georgia for two years and talked with several people
      about this very issue. These people aren't racists, you can feel
      their emotions when you talk to them. Because the South lost, we
      can't erase history, even though history already has a tendency to
      erase the history of the losers."

      And on a humorous note, Hopkins added: "And anyone who grew up with
      the Dukes of Hazzard like I did can't tell me that they were
      insulted by the General Lee."

      Another incident - two or three weeks ago - involving the flying of
      yet another Confederate Flag, demanded the intervention of Fulton
      police officials.

      According to Police Chief Steve Myers, a couple living at 215 West
      Ninth Street - an area heavily populated with black residents - were
      asked to remove their Confederate flag, which was suspended beneath
      an American flag. The couple complied.

      The flags caught the attention of McBride, who the same day reported
      the incident to Fulton Police Chief Steve Myers. Myers in turn sent
      officers to the residence and suggested to the occupants that
      removing the flag would keep peace in the neighborhood.

      When approached Tuesday by The Fulton Sun, the couple - Robert and
      Pamela Shannon - became angered at the publicity the matter has
      attracted, and chose not to speak with the press.

      "As citizens they have the right to hang the flag, it's just not
      using very good judgment," Myers said.

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