Residents and Stafford County, Virginia, officials are meeting Tuesday evening to discuss what, if anything, can and should be done about a large Confederate flag that flies near Interstate 95.
A demonstration is scheduled outside the county government building, and a spokeswoman said jersey barriers were placed near the building for crowd control. Those who plan to rally outside the building said they will head inside to address the supervisors about the flag.
The group, Virginians United for Peace and Equality, said the big Confederate flag seen by travelers along the interstate gives the wrong impression about their county.
“We're concerned it may be seen as somewhat racist,” said Susan Kosior, a member of the group. “The impression of the flag is certainly negative now in its connotations, and we're concerned that's the way people will view it.”
"I think it's absolutely a racist symbols of hatred, so I think something needs to be done," said Bill Johnson-Miles, who was in Charlottesville last month and saw white supremacists carrying the Confederate flag as clashes turned violent.
The Confederate flag was put on private property as part of a statewide campaign in 2014. The co-owner of the property, Debra Cash, said, “It is heritage, not hate. You can’t change history.”
Those opposed to the flag want to change the view along Interstate 95 in Stafford County. They are urging the county board to put up a very visible statement near the flag.
“We've asked, number 1, for the county to put a billboard up on both the north and southbound side near flag welcoming everybody to Stafford County, embracing a message of inclusion and diversity in our county,” Kosier said.
The county posted a statement on its website that reads, “In light of recent events, Stafford County would like to express our commitment to providing a welcoming, inclusive, and safe community for all residents and visitors. We value an environment of unity, trust and understanding. We honor our history and respect and protect the right to live free from discrimination. Stafford welcomes all.”