Confederate Flag Lawsuit Sparks Much Debate

POSTED: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A local man’s decision to file a lawsuit against his employer, BJ’s Wholesale Club, over a Confederate flag flap has resurrected conflict about the controversial symbol.

Bobby Tillett said for nearly the past year he has parked his pickup truck, which flies the Confederate flag, on public property a half-mile away from BJ’s employee lot because the company won’t allow him to park on its personal property while the flag is flying.

On Tuesday, Tillett’s attorney confirmed the man has filed a lawsuit against BJ’s.

The issue has prompted many Channel 4 viewers to send in comments and take part of an online discussion.

 

One comment received on Twitter.com stated, "The Confederate battle flag is more heritage than hate, just used more as a tool of southern culture or ignorance, not hate."

Another viewer wrote, "I don’t see any problem with the flag because it is a historical flag of our nation."

The flag has been both defended and criticized for almost as long as it has been around.

Randy Brown, of Windy Creations, has made and sold flags on Jacksonville Beach for 20 years. He said the Confederate flag is a big part of his business.

"Like Gators and different sports teams, there’s definitely a certain following for the Confederate flag," Brown explained.

The much-debated symbol is a polarizing piece of American history. Tillett’s lawsuit over flying the flag has once again sparked debate over its significance.

"It’s offensive to me but not to the point where I would say they can’t have it on their car. I mean, I have stickers on my car of Obama, you know?" said Jacksonville resident Tarnee Coffey.

Jim Lear, a commander with the Nassau County Sons Of Confederacy, said his fraternity leaves Confederate flags on the graves of soldiers.

"We’re honoring our ancestors and our way of life, and I’m going to do it as long as I live. I’ve been doing it since I was a little fella," Lear said.

The debate over the Confederate flag always seems to come down to two different arguments. Many supporters of the flag claim it represents southern heritage and history. Many of those who oppose the flag claim it’s about racism.

"Southern pride to me, an African American woman, means racism, and I’m not proud of anything that has to do with that," Coffey said.

"I probably would say I think it’s racism. I don’t particularly care for it," said resident Jan Tomlinson.

"I don’t consider it racist. That’s part of my heritage. I think it can be construed that way perhaps, but that’s not the way I look at it," Brown said.

Copyright 2009 by News4Jax.com.

On The Web:  www.news4jax.com/news/19012841/detail.html#-