ADL on Apartheid Flag Display: “We must stand against symbols of hatred”

Photo courtesy Trent Gremillion

“The placement of a South African flag frequently associated with white supremacy at a destroyed monument uplifting the Confederacy carries obvious connotations,” says Anti-Defamation League South Regional Director Aaron Ahlquist.

“The core belief represented by the 1928 South African Apartheid flag is that of white supremacy, and the flag has been adopted as a symbol by white supremacists in the U.S. There are also obvious connotations with the placement of the flag on a monument dedicated to uplifting the Confederacy,” Ahlquist says.

The flag appeared at the South’s Defenders monument in front of the Lake Charles courthouse over the weekend. The main part of the monument was toppled when Hurricane Laura ripped through the area as a Category 4 storm in August 2020 just weeks after the community largely voted against removing the monument. The vote came as Black Lives Matter protests sparked conversations around removing Confederate monuments as symbols of white supremacy. Calcasieu Parish Police Jurors voted to keep the monument after receiving over 800 public comments in favor of keeping the monument in front of the courthouse rather than moving it elsewhere.

The flag was removed only 10 minutes after it was reported to the police jurors, but some are wondering why it was allowed to remain for days before being reported, especially given its prominent location. According to Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court Trent Gremillion, he was told to avoid the area when he suggested he might remove the flag himself.

“When I got to work [Monday] morning I emailed administration. I made a comment that I was tempted to remove the flag myself on my morning break. I was advised that all employees should avoid the area until further action was taken,” Gremillion said. “We have cameras on the front of the building that faces the monument. I’d be interested to know who placed the flag there and when it occurred. Seems a little ironic the flag appeared during the final days of Black History Month.”

Ahlquist says that he’s grateful the flag was reported and removed quickly.

“As a society, we must stand against symbols of hatred and white supremacy. We are glad that the flag was removed quickly after it was reported, and it stands as a reminder that we must be vigilant in reporting hate in our communities.”

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