Sons of Confederate Veterans demand apology from Washington & Lee
Jul 28, 2014
By WSLS Staff

UPDATE July 29, 12:30 p.m.: Washington and Lee University issued a statement Tuesday regarding the alleged incident of a 15-year-old boy being asked to remove or hide images of confederate flags on his clothes before entering the area around Lee Chapel over the weekend. The statement says there were four recorded interactions between officers and individuals participating in the July 26 rally sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans where officers asked people not to carry or wear Confederate flags or emblems on the campus.

The statement also says officers did not record the names or ages of the people with whom they interacted. The full statement from Washington and Lee is below:

According to our Office of Public Safety, our officers reported four occasions when they interacted with individuals who were participating in the July 26 rally sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in downtown Lexington.
The officers characterized all of these interactions as respectful. They did not record names or ages of any of the individuals.
In each instance, the officers requested individuals not to carry Confederate flags or to wear attire with Confederate emblems on the campus. The individuals all complied with these requests.
The University chose to take these extraordinary steps — and the equally extraordinary step of closing Lee Chapel for the weekend — to avoid potential incidents. The decision to implement these procedures was based on the extreme nature of many communications that we received in the days leading up to the event.
Our primary concern will always be for the safety and security of our campus community and all its members, including the many visitors that we have throughout the year. At the same time, we have been clear that we will not allow outside groups to use the campus as a platform.
Given the tenor of the communications and without knowing what we might expect on Saturday, we had no choice but to employ these measures that day. We appreciate the manner in which our public safety officers performed their duties and the polite cooperation of those with whom they interacted. We hope that this will not be necessary in the future. We will continue to take whatever steps we think are prudent in order to keep the community and our facilities safe.

Lexington (WSLS) –  The Stonewall Brigade, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #1296 is calling upon Washington & Lee University President, Kenneth P. Ruscio, to apologize for what it calls the school’s mistreatment of a 15-year-old boy over the weekend.

Meanwhile, university officials deny the allegations being brought against it. Brian Eckert, the spokesperson for Washington and Lee, stated there is no indication the incident took place. He also denied an on-camera interview.

According to the SCV, the boy attended the group’s rally on Saturday, July 26 and gave the following account of his mistreatment in his own words:

"Since it was my first time in Lexington I wanted to see the Lee Chapel and the grave of Lee’s horse Traveller. As I began to head for the Lee Chapel, a

[campus] Police Officer stopped me and said that I could not enter the campus property with my Battle Flag or any images of Confederate Flags on any of my possessions including my clothing. I really wanted to pay my respects to General Lee and Traveller so I had to turn my shirt inside-out, take off my hat, and take off my badge." SVC said it’s questioning if this is the reception thousands of visitors to Lexington and Lee Chapel can expect to receive in the future. The group said the majority of visitors are Civil War history enthusiasts and many can be expected to wear items with flags or other images related to the Confederacy.

The group also says the university improperly blocked the main access road to Virginia Military Institute and made it nearly impossible for visitors to get to the VMI Museum, George C. Marshall Museum and VMI Post to find their way onto that campus.

The SVC is asking Washington & Lee to issue an apology, abide by its own mission statement and not obstruct freedom of expression and thought and respect others viewpoints.

The university temporarily closed Lee Chapel this weekend citing safety concerns over the SVC’s Confederate battle flag rally. The rally was in response to the school’s decision to remove Confederate battle flags from Lee Chapel.

© 2014, WSHM; Springfield, MA

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