Correction (October 15, 1:12 a.m.): Due to an editing error, the story, a previous version of this story incorrectly described the Christian flag. The flag is white with a red cross in a blue box in the top left corner. The story has been updated to reflect the correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
KING, N.C. — The removal of a Christian flag from a veteran war memorial has caused a clash in a North Carolina city.
In King, a small city less than two hours west of Chapel Hill, protests have erupted following the city council’s decision to remove the flag from a local veterans war memorial.
The flag is white with a red cross in a blue box in the top left corner.
The decision to remove the flag from King’s Central Park was made after a complaint from a local veteran, who did not use his name in the complaint.
The veteran contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which then contacted city officials because they said the flag flying at memorial was unconstitutional, said John Cater, King’s city manager.
“The city council acted upon the advice of the city attorney, who cited the potential enormous cost associated with fighting a lawsuit on this issue, if one were to be filed,” he said in an e-mail.
And on Sep. 15, the council voted to take the flag down, which flew at the memorial since it opened in 2004, Crater said.
But residents who oppose the flag’s removal are doing what they can to bring it back.
They have been guarding a new Christian flag on a temporary stand — 24 hours a day — for 18 days now and will continue to until Oct. 23.
On that day there will be a march through town supporting the flag at the memorial. The march will begin at a local church and end at Central Park, said Mike Marshall, a native of King and a supporter of the flag.
“We are mainly trying to raise awareness to that citizens are in favor of the flag there,” Marshall said.
He said it is important for the flag to fly at the memorial because it represents the veterans of the community.
“We are not trying to represent diversity of the world,” Marshall said. “We are trying to represent the community and the values that the country was founded on.”
The flag has now become a fixture in the city, flying from local businesses and homes. On the streets, vendors can be found selling T-shirts and magnets with images of the flag on them.
“This was a negative when it first happened, and it has turned into a positive thing,” Marshall said. “The community hasn’t been like this since 9/11.”
Some UNC students from King said the protests have gone too far.
Freshman Amanda Goodrich compared the atmosphere in the city to a civil war because of the separation the controversy has caused.
And freshman Kristin Collis said she thought it was fine for people to express their religion but added that the constitution should be followed while they show that expression.
“It’s a matter of separation of church and state,” Collis said. “The Christians of King are acting like they are personally being attacked, like they are a victim because they can’t fly the flag.”
Senior Rebekah Goff said nothing was wrong with people wanting to defend the flag, but it is the way that they are doing it that is a problem.
“If you are going to defend your Christian flag, then you should do it honorably,” Goff said.
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