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The confederate flag was reported to the police on Monday (18th January)

The Confederate Flag: not illegal but unacceptable

A confederate flag seen flying in a boat yard on Rock-a-Nore Road has been removed after residents contacted police and local councillors and took to social media to voice their concerns. Emma Harwood reports.

The flag – associated with US slavery and a widely recognised symbol of white supremacy – was reported to Sussex Police by a passer-by who saw it at Hastings Motorboat and Yacht Club (HMBYC) last Monday 18 January, which was also Martin Luther King Day, an annual commemoration of the civil rights activist’s life and work.

Police contacted the club to make it aware that the flag was causing offence but said no crime had been identified. By Wednesday the flag had been removed with HMBYC giving assurances it was not connected with their organisation but had been the “responsibility of an individual member.”

History of the flag and its contemporary context

The blue star-studded cross on a red square became an emblem for the Confederate States of America which fought to keep slavery during the American Civil War.  It was adopted by anti-civil rights groups and white supremacists such as the Ku Klux Klan which waged a war of terror against black people in the US during the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 21st century it continues to be displayed as a symbol of hate and racism among neo-nazi and extremist groups around the world.

Also known as the ‘Dixie Flag’, and ‘Southern Cross’,  to some it signifies rebellion and pride in Southern heritage and has been displayed as such in popular culture.

Tom Petty regretted using the flag for his 1985 Southern Accents tour

But in 2012 Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd removed it from all merchandise and marketing material and Tom Petty –who displayed it briefly during a 1985 tour – later said he had been ‘downright stupid’ to do so. Warner Brothers halted production of The Dukes of Hazzard car ‘General Lee’ and other products which bore the motif in 2015.

Many country and rockabilly festivals in the UK now ask music fans not to display the ‘rebel’ flag due to its connection with extremists and hate groups.

In 2019, organisers of the UK’s largest roots and rock’n’roll festival Rhythm Riot told fans that displaying the flag in the past did not make them racists: “On today’s rockin’ scene some people still like to use this flag as a symbol for rockabilly or rock’n’roll. The difference is that today, we know that this same flag is being used by hate groups and by racists and extremists, often seen hung alongside Swastikas. We are not like those people. We do not want to be associated with those people.”

In recent years many major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Ebay have stopped selling it. Last year it was prohibited from being displayed on installations by the US Marine Corps, Navy and Military and prohibited from being sold or displayed on public grounds by the State of New York.

In June 2020 Trump defended the confederate flag as ‘free speech’. It was photographed being brandished by a rioter both outside and inside the Capitol building in Washington DC on 6 January  – an image which chilled all those aware of the flag’s painful history and divisive connotations.

No room for racism in Hastings

St Leonards resident and journalist Nadene Ghouri said: “Hastings is a diverse, welcoming town and a designated community of sanctuary for refugees. It will take more than the attempts of a deluded individual to spread hatred and racism here. But it’s also a sign we must all be on our guard and double down our efforts in 2021 to call out racism wherever we see it.”

While displaying the flag in the UK is not illegal, anyone wishing to fly it in public would need consent from the planning authority, according to government flag-flying guidance.

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Posted 20:51 Sunday, Jan 24, 2021 In: Local News


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Bolshie

    Quite agree with Paul here about flying the Confederate Flag.
    I really don’t believe most people will understand the history and politics of this flag and only perceive as a rebel flag as they more or less do with the Jolly Roger pirate one.
    Having lived in Georgia for 27 years all I can suggest to those who object to this flag is don’t visit the Southern states as this flag is a very common site and it will only upset you.

    Comment by Bolshie — Sunday, Feb 14, 2021 @ 10:42

  2. Zenos Metevsky

    The Confederate flag has a chequered history, including adoption by some groups who may be regarded as unsavoury. But isn’t it just a little ironic that a town which exults in flying skull-and-crossbones flags on Pirate day should find other insignia of rebellion so “unacceptable”?

    Comment by Zenos Metevsky — Sunday, Jan 31, 2021 @ 12:51

  3. Paul Buswell

    Those who object to the passive flying of the Confederate flag are, in my opinion, making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Comment by Paul Buswell — Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021 @ 16:12

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