A North Carolina fire station is causing a problem for local officials who have demanded that a Confederate flag be removed from the premises.
Officials want the rural Uwharrie Fire Department to remove a Confederate flag that has been flying on the property for more than 20 years because some in the community see the flag a symbol of hate. But they are running into trouble because the building from which the flag flies is privately owned, WFMY-TV reported.
Taxpayer dollars are used to fund the operation and the fire trucks but they do not go toward the building.
The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners wrote the fire department a letter requesting the removal of the flag during July’s county commissioners meeting, pointing out that the firefighters are “de facto stewards” of the flag.
“The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners respectfully asks the volunteers of the Uwharrie Fire Department to remove the Confederate Flag from the building for which they are de facto stewards,” the letter read, according to the Asheboro Courier-Tribune.
“As your Commissioners, financial supporters, and friends, we now ask you to make that same decision and to keep the Department and its resources free from individual expression,” the letter continued.
County Manager Matthew Woodard said the letter would to be mailed to all members of the Uwharrie Fire Department.
“It supports First Amendment rights but takes a position against the Confederate flag on a public building for personal opinion,” he told the Courier-Tribune.
“This is wrong, and it just has to end, and it’s that simple,” Democrat Ray Hudson, who lives in the county, told WNCN.
Former Commissioner Ralph Bostic said the flag has no place on the fire station.
“The first thing people see when they’re driving into the county from Winston-Salem, or other places, they see a rebel flag. That’s not good for the county, the business, the economics, or anything else,” he said.
Commissioner Mike Criscoe said he didn’t “know what options we have if they don’t take it down. We’ll see what their decision is and go from there.”
The Fire Chief for the Uwharrie Fire Department told WNCN he had no comment.
Since the Confederate flag has been a flashpoint of controversy for years, but especially since a white supremacists named Dylann Roof killed nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. Critics have demanded the flag be removed from public land, and even private properties have seen controversies.
It looks like the Uwharrie Fire Department is falling into the latter category.
But so far, at least, the controversial flag is still flying on the building.
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