A protest was held this week in front of the Haywood County historic courthouse by Confederate supporters who say their flag is being discriminated against.
For years, David Crook had been making monthly rounds past the Confederate Memorial on the lawn of the historic courthouse and tucking a tiny flag into the ground at its base. And for years, an anonymous person who felt the flag carried negative symbolism had been pulling them up.
“They kept disappearing,” said Thomas Shepard, whose own ancestors fought for the South. “So we kept replacing them.”
The flag tug-of-war gradually ramped up, with a new one being put down and pulled up almost daily.
The county was forced to wade into the fray in June, when a local attorney complained about the tiny flag display and asked the county to intervene.
“Personally, I have been more than uncomfortable with the flag’s presence on government property,” Waynesville Attorney Bob Clark wrote in an email to county commissioners. “Will you please take action, quietly and effectively, to stop the display of this divisive symbol?”
If the county won’t step in and stop the tiny flags from cropping up, then perhaps the commissioners should issue a public statement that they “support the flying of this symbol,” Clark suggested.
County Manager Marty Stamey talked the issue over informally with commissioners, and the next morning directed county maintenance workers to pull up the flags whenever they saw them. Stamey sent county maintenance workers an email asking them to keep an eye on the monument a couple of times during the day to monitor for the flag’s reappearance.
“Am I understanding correctly that you are requesting the Confederate Flag to be removed and not ever be placed back in front of the Confederate Monument?” County Maintenance Director Dale Burris wrote back to Stamey.
“It is a sensitive issue with government property as you are aware,” Stamey wrote back to Burris. “Maybe we can request that they just keep a nice wreath in front of the memorial instead.”