Originally created 08/22/06

Appeal of flag ruling ready



Correction, Aug. 25, 2006: The original version of this article did not accurately report details about the 2004 removal of a Confederate flag from a display along Augusta's Riverwalk. According to a press release issued at the time by then-Mayor Bob Young, the flag was removed at the request of Charles Smith, the president of the Augusta Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Recent news accounts in The Chronicle have credited another group with making the request. (Highlight changes)

ATLANTA - A Confederate heritage group announced Monday that it is appealing to the Georgia Supreme Court a local court decision permitting the removal of the Confederate flag from Riverwalk Augusta.

Then-Augusta Mayor Bob Young ordered the flag removed in 2004, before the South Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held its convention in Augusta. The group was meeting in Augusta rather than its home state to join an NAACP boycott protesting South Carolina's display of a different version of the Confederate flag.

The Georgia Heritage Council objected to the removal of the flag from the riverwalk and filed suit when the Augusta Commission declined to restore the display. In court last fall, the heritage group failed to persuade Richmond County Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale to order the flag back.

Judge Wheale was quoted as saying the flag "is a symbol of hate, unfortunately."

The Heritage Council is relying on a provision passed in 2001 as part of the legislation to change the design of the state flag to minimize the Confederate battle emblem.

That provision in the law prohibits the removal of any symbol that had been erected to honor military veterans of the United States or Confederate armies.

Judge Wheale, though, ruled that the riverwalk display was erected to illustrate Augusta's history rather than specifically to honor veterans.