KENNESAW — The Kennesaw mayor and City Council plan to make the removal of a Confederate battle flag from its veteran memorial display downtown permanent, despite a state law that bans local governments from doing so.
Mayor Derek Easterling told the MDJ the battle flag was taken after someone cut the rope prior to recent protests in the area.
To prevent further vandalism, the city took down the Georgia and U.S. flags, and has since returned those two to the site, but the third pole remains empty. Normally, the three flags are flown at the city’s Commemorative Park at the corner of Cherokee and Main streets, outside the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.
“The City of Kennesaw Mayor & Council are deciding how best to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the memorial at Commemorative Park in Downtown Kennesaw, as the flag does not represent who we are as a City and what the City stands for. The City of Kennesaw’s Vision is ‘to cultivate a progressive, vibrant community fostering an environment of opportunity, inclusion, and security, we strive to be a city inspired by innovation, guided by ethics, and enhanced by diversity,’” Easterling said through a spokesperson.
In 2017, the city asked the state Legislature to revisit the law in a resolution.
Councilman David Blinkhorn said the council had a general consensus that the flag has to remain off city property. He said he’s willing to face whatever the consequences are for breaking the state law.
“If the city keeps it down, it is breaking the state law, no question about that,” he said. “What the actual results of that are, I don’t know. I don’t know what the Legislature would do, if they would come arrest us all, I don’t know what the ramifications are other than yes, we would be breaking the law. I can speak for myself that it’s time we take a stand for what’s right for the community regardless, and I’m willing to suffer the consequences.”
Councilwoman Tracey Viars agreed with removing the flag.
“Generally, it’s just offensive to people, it’s not historically accurate, and me personally, as a council member and as a human being, I don’t want anyone to come to our city and not feel welcome,” she said.
At its meeting Monday, the council will consider alternatives to the battle flag, including another Georgia state flag, the Georgia seal at the time of the Civil War or another flag that may have flown over Camp McDonald, a Civil War-era training camp in Big Shanty, now Kennesaw, during the war.
The Kennesaw City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 2529 J. O. Stephenson Ave. To watch the meeting online, visit www.facebook.com/CityofKennesaw.