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Chesterfield Dems join Confederate flag flap

8/21/2013, 12:11 p.m.

By Sylvina Poole

Members of the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee are calling on the county’s Board of Supervisors to prevent a planned Confederate flag from being flown on interstate 95.

In a letter mailed to each of the county’s 5-member Board of Supervisors, the Committee condemns the Confederate flag and asks that the Board pass a resolution condemning the flying of an oversized battle flag in Chesterfield near I-95. The Committee explained that it recognizes that the board cannot legally affect the flag, the committee instead asks for the condemnation because this is such a divisive symbol that could upset citizens, both black and white, the committee wrote.

Additionally, the committee mentioned the potential negative impression this flag could have on tourists and visitors to the area as well as companies deciding whether to bring their business to the county.

The letter states, “We don’t believe that employers will want to bring their jobs to a county whose vistas and horizon are invaded by the Confederate flag. These employers will rightly fear that the message it sends to prospective employees is not a positive one. Jobs and businesses will go elsewhere,” hampering the excellent work being done by the Board of Supervisors to create good paying jobs in the County.”

The letter also said, “We write to you today about an issue of grave concern to our county and community, the placement of an oversized Confederate battle flag along the interstate in Chesterfield. While we recognize that you do not have any legal recourse and that individuals are permitted to place this flag on their private property, we ask you to stand together to condemn this action.

We know this flag is very disturbing and, frankly, upsetting to a great many members of our community, both black and white, and is similarly distressing to those travelers who will drive past it on interstate 95. This flag does not show us to be a welcoming county which we know we want to be. We believe this issue is above partisanship or politics.”

The letter concludes, “We need to stand together as a community to say we do not want such a divisive symbol prominently displayed over the interstate. We strive in Chesterfield to be a welcoming place for all citizens who come here to live, work or play. Neither our residents’ nor our visitors’ overall view of the County should be marred by the sight of a flag that, in particular, has been associated with so much strife and distress over the years.

Believing this issue to be above politics or partisanship, the Chesterfield Democratic Committee also calls on individuals and organizations within the County, from our elected leaders of both parties, to civic groups, to religious groups, to the Chesterfield Republican Committee, to join with us in condemning this divisive symbol flying over our community in such a public and outsized manner.”

A spokesperson for the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors said it is the responsibility of the Chesterfield County Administrator to respond to these types of letters.

“I contacted the county administrator’s office for the status,” stated Donald Kappel, director of public affairs for Chesterfield County, about the response to the letter from the county.

“We received the request on Friday. A copy of the request was placed in the mail file for each of the five Board of Supervisors members,” stated Kappel.

There is not a Chesterfield County ordinance or regulation that would preclude flying any flag, he explained.

The flagpole height is limited to 50 feet in R & R-TH districts, 75 feet in R-MF, O-1 or C-1 districts and 150 feet in all other districts.

The process for any resolution is for one of the board members to sponsor the resolution, and for a majority of the board to agree to it, Kappel further noted.