Confederate flag raises concerns

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. — A giant Confederate flag: that's what will soon be flying over a local community and near a busy interstate.

The group behind the flag and the memorial park where it will fly said they're not trying to stir up trouble.

But lots of people say that's happening anyway, so they are speaking out against the group's plans.

Among them are county leaders, who are coming out against it.

The flag will fly right along I-24 in Reidland.

The group commander said the parcel of land was given to the group by a man who has Confederate ancestors and wanted a Confederate memorial built.

It'll sit right beside Trader's Mall in Reidland.

It's not the memorial causing concerns. It's the message many fear the big Confederate flag will send.

"It's a good location," said John Suttles with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "It's quiet here and it'd be a good place for a memorial park for people to come out here and sit."

The park is a $24,000, including ancestor bricks, plaques, markers and a big Confederate flag.

The flag pole was the first thing put on the property. Suttles said he's not sure when they'll raise the 12 foot by 18 foot symbol.

Some would rather they didn't raise it at all.

"I wouldn't have it in my front yard. I certainly wouldn't," said neighbor Jerry Vasseur, who lives right across the road.

But he knows he'll see it from his front yard every day.

"I just don't agree with it, surely don't," Vasseur said.

He fears what others will think of the community when they drive by. And he's not alone.

"We would prefer it not being there of course," McCracken County Deputy Judge Executive Doug Harnice said.

Harnice said the plans caught the county off guard and even though he doesn't like it, there's absolutely nothing he can do.

"It's a First Amendment thing," Harnice said. "First of all, he has the right to fly the flag on his property."

Suttles said his group is about history, not hate or racism.

"That's all they're wanting to teach any more is tolerance and we deserve tolerance, too," Suttles said.

But to Vasseur, it's history he'd like left behind

"I just don't know why we just cant let bygones be bygones and go on with our lives," Vasseur said.

Suttles said his group will allow people to buy bricks and put their ancestor's names on them. He's not sure when the park will be completed. Suttles said they are also considering putting state flags around the monument.

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