Confederate flag raising is causing controversy in a small Virginia town

CNN
Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 12:54pm

A newly-raised confederate battle flag is waving over Interstate 95 near Richmond, Virginia.

Members of the "Virginia Flaggers" group say they installed the flag to honor their ancestors and educate people about southern history.

But opposition is flying high too, more than 23-thousand people have signed an online petition denouncing the display.

Flying high above I-95, 50 feet in the air, stands this symbol of pride for Jeffrey Newton.

"Our family has been here for almost 300 years."

Son of the Confederacy...

"This is the only picture that I have of him. My Great, Great, Grandfather Patrick Jonah Newton was with the 14th Second Company G Virginia Infantry."

Newton and this group of Virginia Flaggers dedicated this huge landmark Saturday in the tiny town of Chester.

"We're just peaceful, loving American Southerners flying the flag that represents people who died."

But for King Salim Khalfani, this historic flag is creating a new battle.

"I'm tired. The civil war ended eons ago. But, in Virginia, with Monument Avenue and the like, we continue to have to fight this battle."

"Khalfani describes the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate during a time when African-Americans were fighting for their own freedom."

"We've never been supportive of this flag. It's been used to intimidate. It's been used as a racist symbol. And it's been used to terrorize African people in this country and in Virginia."

"It was about the principle and about the constitution. Not about slavery."

And Jeffrey Newton agrees, saying, the Confederate flag is not meant to offend anyone, just a way to honor his southern roots.

"It's very important. It's our heritage."

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