Museum of Confederacy laments misuse of flag

It rues incident in Chesterfield in which Obama sign was taken from yard and replaced with flag
Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008


The president of the Museum of the Confederacy is expressing "sincere regret" to a Chesterfield County man whose Barack Obama campaign yard sign was stolen last weekend and replaced with a Confederate flag.

"Such misuse and political abuse of the Confederate battle flag is a barrier to the study of Civil War history and discourages discussion on the historical factors that have shaped our country," S. Waite Rawls III, president and CEO of the museum, said in a statement yesterday afternoon.

The Richmond museum took the unusual step of issuing a statement about this incident, reported Monday by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, because it occurred "in our own backyard," said museum public-relations specialist Megan Stagg.

The 4-foot-by-8-foot campaign sign was taken from the front yard of Leroy C. McLaughlin’s home on Bailey Bridge Road sometime between 7:30 and 9 p.m. on Friday and replaced with a 3-foot-by-5-foot Confederate flag. Chesterfield police have said they are investigating the larceny and holding the flag as evidence.

"In Richmond, Virginia, we are associated with the history of the Confederate battle flag, and we felt we needed to speak out on the issue and basically say we are disappointed in the way the symbol was used," Stagg said.

McLaughlin, a Baptist minister and Army veteran, on Monday posted the sign touting Obama, the first African-American nominated to a major political party ticket. McLaughlin was cooking dinner Friday night when a family member called and told him about the flag hanging from wooden posts in his yard.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"The Museum of the Confederacy is determined to examine and interpret the history of the Confederate battle flag and shine a light on its uses, both proper and improper," Rawls said.

"The political implications that the flag held during the civil-rights movement are an important part of its history. We are disappointed with the use of the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of 21st-century racial intolerance."

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