Flag supporters take to Atlanta streets - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Flag supporters take to Atlanta streets

^ Gerry Turner ^ Gerry Turner
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January 14, 2003

Atlanta--  The state flag continues to be a hot issue throughout Georgia.

Tuesday, supporters of the former flag marched to the capitol to remind the new governor about his promise for a referendum.  Several hundred old Georgia flags, which bear the St. Andrews cross, more widely known as the Confederate battle emblem, were paraded down the streets of Atlanta, on the way to the steps of the capitol.

Leaders of the rally held a "pledge of allegiance" to the old flag. Old flag supporters sang, and played their message with enthusiasm. But quietly, from the sky, an airplane towed a message for the new governor: "Barnes was just a warm-up."

"This is not a protest," said one speaker. "We gathered here today to celebrate!"

"Every time we're given the chance to vote, we win," said Ron Wilson of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "Cram it to 'em. Don't back up. Make sure the referendum happens," he told the crowd.

Many supporters dressed up for the occasion, with Confederate uniforms. They say that Roy Barnes was trying to erase Southern heritage. "It's been with us for so long, why not keep it a little bit longer?' asked Flag Supporter Gerry Turner. Turner is a Civil War re-enactor, and the flag is also a part of his history. "Part of my family was on the South side, fighting during the war. All of us were fighting for our rights. As we like to say, 'rats...'"

Shortly after the rally, Governor Perdue agreed to a non-binding referendum, which means Georgians will be able to vote, but it will be similar to an opinion poll, and will not carry the force of law.

Even though the governor is pushing for this non-binding referendum, it's not a done deal. The legislature would still have to approve a flag change, and no one knows when a referendum would be held.

Governor Barnes suddenly and quietly rammed the flag change through the General Assembly in January 2001.

posted at 6:30PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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