Local Sons of the Confederate Veterans member protests flag remo - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local Sons of the Confederate Veterans member protests flag removal in stores

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Less than a week after nine black worshipers were shot to death inside a Charleston church, there's a growing push to remove the Confederate battle flag.

Major retailers like Walmart, Sears, and Amazon announced they will take all confederate flag items off their shelves. 

The decision follows a renewed push to remove the flag from South Carolina's state house after pictures of accused hate-crime killer Dylann Roof -- holding up a Confederate flag surfaced. 

Shopper Lynda Curtis says the change is overdue.

"I am not for anything that has to do with white supremacy and if there is something about the flag that has to do with it then take it down," Curtis said.

Although widely recognized as a symbol of the American South, the flag in question was never officially adopted by the Confederacy as their national flag. 

It was instead adopted as a battle flag by the army of northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee. 

Herb Deloach, who is a member of the Chattanooga Sons of Confederate Veterans, tells Channel 3 that the "Rebel flag" has nothing to do with racism or white supremacy. 

His great-grandfather fought for the Confederacy along with his two great uncles. 

Confederate memorabilia decorates his home.

"It's our symbol of our past, of our ancestry... it doesn't have anything to do with any kind of hate," Deloach said.

A spokesman for Walmart said in a statement: "We never want to offend anyone with the products we offer."

"Well, I think it's important to be sensitive," Curtis said.

Resident Nicole Boyd tells us she doesn't see the Confederate flags as a threat.

"No, I'm kind of neutral when it comes to that," Boyd said. " Either way they decide to do it."

Boyd admits the flag's presence high in the sky and in stores is emotional for some but questions whether the South is ready.

"Go ahead and take it down and be done with it," Boyd said. "Yes it's Southern heritage, it's always been here, but it's a new day in age. If they take it down, that would be great."

Deloach believes removing the flag merchandise will only push people apart.

"People have gone nuts over what has been promoted as a racist symbol and it's not a racist symbol. To continue to push that, only pushes us further apart," Deloach said. "That's not going to solve the problem or the root of the problem. Selling our Confederate flag to somebody is not going to solve our race relations problem. Only dialogue and education are going to do that."

The Confederate battle flag has been linked to the Ku Klux Klan and most recently the racially-motivated Charleston Church house massacre, with shooting suspect Dylann Roof reportedly posting pictures with the Confederate flag on Facebook. 

Deloach calls the connection a misguided representation of the Confederate flag's historical meaning.

"The flag doesn't have anything to do with promoting slavery or bigotry. No matter whose flag that was, that boy was a deranged nut who should be dealt with," 
 Deloach said. "We won't have anything to do with people like that...never have and never will,"  If you have racist tendencies, don't come to the Sons of American Confederate Veterans for a membership."

A 2011 Pew research poll revealed that 30 percent of Americans have a negative reaction when they see the Confederate flag displayed. Nine percent of Americans have a positive reaction and a majority -- 58 percent -- have no reaction.

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