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Midvale city councilman hopes Confederate battle flag has been unfurled for the last time at city events

Posted at 9:24 PM, Aug 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-19 23:24:54-04

MIDVALE, Utah -- A Midvale city councilman is upset with a float in the recent Harvest Days Parade that displayed the Confederate battle flag.

He's asking it to be banned in future events, but the group carrying the flag says the anger is pointed in the wrong direction.

At issue is whether the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of history, or a symbol of hate?

"I can see that some people would take it as offensive," said Alan Lerwick, with the Utah Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "But that’s based upon the history of it’s use since the end of the war in 1865.”

Midvale City Councilman Dustin Gettel has a different opinion.

"You know this is considered a hate symbol by a lot of people," Gettel said.

The battle flag was proudly carried by the Utah Confederate Veterans group at the Midvale Harvest Days parade on August 11.

"We go in to support the families and the men that served, no differently than any other sons of veterans organization," Lerwick said.

Lerwick is part of the group and he says anger against the flag is misplaced.

"Our point is direct it towards the racism, not the flag that supposedly symbolizes that because we use it as a historical flag,” Lerwick said.

Councilman Gettel says that may be the case in the American South, but not so much out west.

"Not only is the symbol itself offensive to a great number of people, it really has no historical significance in Utah or in Midvale.”

Gettel has asked that the flag not be allowed in future parades, but admits it’s not that easy.

"We’re tied by the first amendment on a lot of these issues," Gettel said. "You know we can't really start picking and choosing like 'yeah we like you, we don’t like you, we like you.'"

Gettel is asking the city to consider how the use of the flag is addressed at future Midvale events.

Lerwick’s group posted these two pictures to Facebook in response.

"Groups like the Ku Klux Klan have used it but they’ve also used the U.S. flag," Lerwick said. "So which is it, are they both racist or neither?”