From: Georgia Flagger <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, Oct 20, 2011
Not only do I urge the phone calls , letters, letters to editors, blog comments, emails and communications of disgust to Southern Company , Ga Power and Plant Wansley continue, but I urge that if you can make a trip down there to visit the cemetery under fire to verify and replace if needed the flags – we must not let up during this 30 day period or ever until THEY back down. This fight is ongoing!
As was reported earlier in the Star News, on October 8, 2011, some members of the Haralson Invincibles, Sons of Confederate Veteran’s Camp #673 (SCV), replaced Confederate flags someone had taken from the Yellow Dirt Cemetery. A descendent of J. P. Shelnutt, a Confederate veteran who is buried at the Yellow Dirt Cemetery, had reported this theft to them.
However, sometime during the following week these new flags were removed. On October 18, 2011, the descendent who reported the initial removal of the flags replaced them with new ones.
This Cemetery is surrounded by the grounds of the Hal B. Wansley Power Plant, which is near Lowell. It is owned and operated by Southern Power, which, like the Georgia Power Company, is a subsidiary of the Southern Company. According to SCV member Ernie Blevins, the Yellow Dirt Cemetery is owned, apparently under trust or some other arrangement, by Lighthouse Baptist Church of Franklin.
Blevins says that eight graves at the Yellow Dirt Cemetery are marked with stones provided by the U.S. Veterans Administration that identify them as the graves of Confederate Veterans. A Heard County parcel map of the Yellow Dirt Cemetery provided by SCV member Billy Bearden lists the Cemetery as the owner of the parcel containing it. A Shelnutt descendent says that Plant Wansley only owns the nearby Church building; not the Cemetery.
Mark Williams of Georgia Power media relations says that "We believe that we own the property where the cemetery is located, and we control both access to the property and individual behavior while visiting the property. Therefore, while we will continue to allow access to the cemetery, we will enforce our company policies regarding anything that may be placed there. Access to our property is determined by our internal security procedures. We allow visitors access to the cemetery after they have checked in at the main security gate. As part of our policy to prevent harassment in the workplace, Georgia Power prohibits any individual on company property from displaying or circulating in the workplace any written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group based on age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status. This includes any flag that the company has determined may create such a situation."
On October 19, 2011, Williams reported that, "We are continuing to look into the matter. A title search normally takes 30 days. Once we get those results, then we will review the facts and decide on what the next steps will be."
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, "If you are a descendant or heir of someone buried in the cemetery, there is no specific statute that addresses right of entry to cemeteries on private property. However, case law in Georgia has been interpreted to mean that the heirs of those buried in the cemetery have an implied easement on the property. The easement gives the heirs the right to prevent disturbance to the graves and the right of ingress and egress for taking care of the burial plots. However, even descendants or heirs should ask the landowner for permission to come onto the property and discuss notification of intent to visit, the frequency of visitation, and passageway to be used." (See http://georgiashpo.org/historic/cemeteries)
According to GEORGIA CODE 50-3-1(4), "It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, or other entity acting without authority to mutilate, deface, defile, abuse contemptuously, relocate, remove, conceal, or obscure any privately owned monument, plaque, marker, or memorial which is dedicated to, honors, or recounts the military service of any past or present military personnel of this state, the United States of America or the several states thereof, or the Confederate States of America or the several states thereof. Any person or entity who suffers injury or damages as a result of a violation of this paragraph may bring an action individually or in a representative capacity against the person or persons committing such violations to seek injunctive relief and to recover general and exemplary damages sustained as a result of such person or persons unlawful actions."
According to GEORGIA CODE 50-3-9, "It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to mutilate, deface, defile, or abuse contemptuously the flag of the United States, the flag, coat of arms, or emblem of the State of Georgia, or the flag or emblem of the Confederate States of America by any act whatever."
According to GEORGIA CODE 50-3-10. "Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent the use of the flag of the United States or any flag, standard, color, shield, ensign, or other insignia of the State of Georgia or of the Confederate States of America for decorative or patriotic purposes, either inside or outside of any residence, store, place of business, public building, or school building." Bearden says that he has contacted the Heard County Sheriff’s Office about the theft of the flags.
And for those who missed the other most recent article read here