Confederate flag waver preaches unity in Hanover

The Rebel banner drew plenty of attention in the borough’s square.
For the Daily Record/Sunday News
Updated: 05/14/2009

A flagstaff propped between two parking meters Thursday in a quadrant of Hanover’s Center Square flew two flags back to back.

One was the Confederate battle flag. The other was an American flag picturing an American Indian chief on a horse.

The two flags might seem to be a contradiction, but the man who planted them there and spent a good part of the day demonstrating near Broadway and Carlisle Street says they’re not.

And, 53-year-old Daniel Levasseur said, he separates himself from the racism sometimes associated with the Confederate flag and likens himself to activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Levasseur came to Hanover two weeks ago from Chambersburg, by way of Maryland. He’s attracted a lot of attention around town in that time.

Levasseur has been seen throughout town, even walking inside the North Hanover Mall, with the staff of his Confederate flag slung over his shoulder. And police have been getting a lot of calls about him "because of the strange nature of the fella,"Hanover Police Sgt. Douglas Riley said.

But, as far as police are concerned, there’s nothing illegal about Levasseur’s demonstrations.

Levasseur said that, despite his display of the flag, racism has nothing to do with it.

"I’m rebellious about negative things that are happening," he said.

To Levasseur, who says his bloodlines are a mix of French and Indian, the Confederate flag stands not for slavery or racism, but for freedom and unity. It’s a symbol against strict government oversight and a product of a nation where every state was free, he said.

"Let’s stop the negativity and have all of the races, creeds and colors stand together," he said.

Levasseur, whose hatband also is a Confederate flag, let loose a slew of accusations, from governments ignoring polluted surface water to agencies snubbing the people they’re supposed to help. He says too many people ignore the drug problem and that he considers churches as "un-Christian" if they lock their doors at night.

At one point, a passenger in a car turning from Frederick Street onto Carlisle Street looked at Levasseur and his flags, then shouted, "White Power."

"It’s not about that," Levasseur said quietly, perhaps mostly to himself.

Anne Contreras, a Hanover woman of German descent, stopped to talk to Levasseur while she and her granddaughter walked home from Hanover Middle School.

To Contreras, the Confederate flag isn’t so much a symbol of slavery or racism as it is a symbol of the South. She even said she’s in favor of Southern states being able to fly the flag — or depictions of the flag — at government buildings.

But flying such a flag in Hanover is asking for trouble, she said. And she told Levasseur that.

"Up here it’s foolish to fly it," she said just afterward, as Levasseur popped out a harmonica and began to wail on it. "If the wrong person comes by, he might get hurt."

Levasseur’s wallet is chained to a belt loop and is stuffed with crumbled bits of paper, which Levasseur would fetch to recall a name or to provide a phone number for someone who would verify his stories. A silver crucifix and two strands of turquoise beads hung from his neck, and Levasseur gripped the cross to explain his reason for being out there.

"My ministry is on the street," he said.

Levasseur said he might soon be leaving town for Charleston, W.Va., where he has plans to start a program aimed at helping recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. He said he understands the need for second chances.

"I have a (criminal) record longer than my body," he said.

A short while later, two Hanover police officers and two deputy sheriffs from Adams County apprehended Levasseur on an apparent outstanding warrant. Deputies said the warrant was for Levasseur’s failure to pay fines and costs and his arrest was unrelated to his demonstration at the square.

Shortly before his arrest, Levasseur had said he couldn’t predict for how long he’d be in Hanover. "Wherever God sends me," he said.

Copyright ©2009

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