June 28, 2005
Another flag flap for Alabama. This time the repercussions over a huge Confederate flag flying along Interstate 65 could have a ripple effect on the state.
Opponents question the legality of putting up the giant battle flag and vow to take drastic measures to bring it down. Others view it as their given heritage.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans dedicated the banner Sunday. As they raised the flag, a protestor raised a question about it’s legality.
Protestor Frank Matthews says, "that racist flag is a violation of state statutes." He says the banner is too tall and too close to the interstate.
So WSFA 12 News checked with the state department of transportation.
Tony Harris, the department’s spokesman says, "When it comes to outdoor signs, billboards, and things of that nature, there’s nothing that we have in the law or in regulations that effect flying a flag on private property."
DOT lawyers even examined the height and proximity of the flag and found nothing illegal.
State representative Alvin Holmes of Montgomery says, "You know sometimes the lawyers for the highway department, their interpretation is wrong and backwards."
Holmes says he will have attorneys for the state’s black caucus review the law, including whether the flag is a distraction to drivers.
If it is determined that the flag is flying legally, then he will ask white leaders to call for it’s removal. And if that doesn’t work, Holmes says, "We are going to consider calling for a nationwide economic boycott against the state of Alabama."
Governor Bob Riley says, "That’s as much a part of our culture, a part of Alabama history as a million other things."
During Sunday’s dedication ceremony, protesters posted signs on the bank below the flag calling for the governor to bring it down.