The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Confederate battle flag flying over the graves of Civil War soldiers in a city-owned cemetery should be placed in a glass case and flown only on designated days, according to draft recommendations from a city committee. "We thought this was respectful to the history but also respectful of the community," said committee vice chair Angeles Ortega-Moore.

The group also suggest replacing the battle flag at Elmwood Cemetery with another Confederate flag, such as the N.C. State Flag of 1861.

The Charlotte City Council must still approve the recommendations, but flag supporters oppose what they’ve heard so far.

"If this is their recommendation, we will fight it," said Mark Alexander Palmer, who has relatives buried at Elmwood. "This flag represents what these men fought and died under. It represents their beliefs. They have the right to have it flown over their headstones."

The city’s Community Relations Committee has studied the issue since July, when Charlotte City Council member Warren Turner said he wanted the flag lowered because he worried people would believe the city endorsed it.

Turner said Sunday he didn’t want to take a stand on the recommendations, but said he was "not sure whether a flag should be there at all."

Supporters, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, say the flag honors Southern history. Critics say it’s a symbol of hate.

The community relations committee held a public forum in October, set up a Web site for feedback and researched how other cities have handled the issue.

Ortega and committee chair Don Steger said they did not anticipate any major changes to the recommendations. The committee will meet later this month to settle on the final proposal.

City Manager Pam Syfert will then make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say.

Palmer said he has signatures from 1,500 people who want the flag to stay. He said he prefers adding a plaque that explains the flag is being flown for historic purposes, or lowering the flag and flying it with the original Confederate flag.

© Copyright 2005, The News & Observer Publishing Company

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