NAACP leader calls for removal of Confederate flag display

By Adam MacInnis · Enquirer-Herald
Updated 01/10/08

YORK — The president of the western York County NAACP chapter wants a flag that pays homage to the Confederate flag removed from in front of a downtown business.

The flag is half the South Carolina state flag and half a version of the Confederate flag and flies beside an American flag in front of Exchange Publishers in downtown.

Western York County NAACP president Steve Love said he’s fielded numerous calls complaining about the flag, so he’s asked the antique gun magazine’s owner, Brett Boyd, to remove it.

Racism vs. heritage?

But it was clear they have different views of the flag.

Love said he considers the flag offensive — a symbol of racism — but Boyd said it’s a part of history and he doesn’t intend to offend anybody.

"He’s a nice guy, nice as you want to be," Love said of Boyd. "My thing is, why fly the Confederate flag outside? Why not fly it inside?"

Boyd explained that it’s a way to honor his grandfather, who fought in the Civil War.

"Not to fly the flag would be dishonoring to him," Boyd said.

Boyd, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he’s not racist.

"They’ll throw you out if you’re involved in any kind of racist activity," he said of the Sons of Confederate Veterans group.

While offensive to some community members, others haven’t paid it much attention.

"All of it, to me, does not symbolize hate," said Rodney Freeman, pastor of Restoration Church South. "That is heritage to some people. That doesn’t bother me. "

Because the flag creates a negative impression for some people, Love said he’d like town officials to do something about having it removed.

"I assume that there is some kind of ethics code that prohibits you from doing whatever you want downtown," he said.

Anne Morrison, former president of the York Downtown Business Association, said there isn’t anything the association can do about the flag.

"I looked into our by-laws, and any issues like that are not addressed," she said.

Mayor Eddie Lee said he looked into the matter at Love’s request, but according to the city attorney, Boyd can fly the flag based on First Amendment rights.

"I agree with the city attorney that it’s protected by the First Amendment," Lee said.

As the NAACP chapter prepares for the Jan. 19 Martin Luther King Parade, which will likely roll right past Boyd’s business, Love hopes he can do something to make sure the flag won’t be flying that day.

"Everybody finds it offensive," he said. "We’ve had a lot of calls about that flag flying because it is (in) the city of York, and York pretty much has good racial relations."

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