Controversial flags stolen in Rhea County
Story by Antwan Harris
Eyewitness News Reporter
DAYTON, TN (WRCB) -- Halloween night, June Griffin called Rhea County 911 Services after someone stole a Gadsden flag that once hung outside the Rhea County Courthouse.
Recently the flag has been associated with the Tea Party, but she says for Constitution Week, the Rhea County Flag Commission hung it to pay homage to its history, dating back to the Revolutionary War.
But after several complaints, the flag went missing.
Now Griffin wants whoever's responsible to pay up.
"I want the flags returned and I want three times the cost and the person who did it to apologize," says Griffin.
Weeks later, the group hung a second Gadsden flag.
That one lasted just three days past Election Day, then it disappeared as well.
Billy Ray Gardner has the flag hanging outside his auction house.
He says he put it there Veterans Day in honor of past wars.
He also says he isn't affiliated with the Tea Party and believes the problem is many people don't know the history behind the flag.
"Through their ignorance of the history everyone is trying to say it is the Tea Party. We can't help it if the Tea Party adopted that emblem," says Gardner.
County Executive George Thacker says he plans to turn over power from the flag commission to his office and from there decide which flags will be raised.
The initial complaint came from the Graysville Mayor Ted Doss, but he has not been named as a suspect.
Tuesday Rhea County Commissioners will make that decision on how to transfer the power.