WICHITA, Kansas – Wichita city officials say Confederate flag at Veterans Memorial Park has been temporarily taken down.
A national debate about the Confederate flag was renewed after the shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting suspect has been seen in photographs with the flag.
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell says the flag has been flying there since 1976.
One veteran says the city should have never made the decision to take it down. He says it represents a piece of history, but Longwell says their intent is to get beyond the divisiveness that is represented in the symbol of the flag.
“We want to look for a manner that can provide a better historical perspective to share all of the flags that are currently flying and displayed in that place of honor and respect,” said Mayor Longwell.
Mayor Longwell and other city council members say temporarily taking down the Confederate flag has created an opportunity for open discussion between those who may not agree.
“You have not seen anything that has been out of line. So I think everybody has handled themselves very professionally,” said City Councilwoman Lavonta Williams.
Williams says she’s meet with different organizations in the community to discuss whether the confederate flag should still fly. Sunflower Action Community Group is one of them. Director Djuan Wash says the battle flag from the state of Virginia is about injury to the people of Virginia, but it also represents oppression to the southern slave holding states.
“This is about slavery.That’s what that flag stood for, that’s what it’s about,” said Wash. “That’s what the war was fought for as far as the south wanting the ability to be able to own slaves as a state right.”
For Williams, she says the Confederate flag has different meanings, race is one of them.
“Some of the things that happened in the south should not have happened, but with Kansas being a free state, we did not have to go through those types of things, but the Confederate flag is a symbol for many people and it’s not a positive symbol,” said Williams.
Mayor Longwell says he’s set up a meeting Monday night with one of the veterans. They plan to discuss if it is permanently taken down, what will replace it