Confederate Flag Raised At Courthouse Draws Nationwide Attention, Sparks Response From NAACP

Apr 13, 2020

Credit Screenshot / Commissioner Justin Lamb

A Confederate flag installed on the grounds of the Marshall County courthouse is drawing nationwide attention after the flag was raised without a vote from the county’s Fiscal Court.

First District Commissioner Justin Lamb and Judge-Executive Kevin Neal pushed to approve the display without public input from remaining Fiscal Court members Kevin Spraggs and Monti Collins, the second and third district commissioners. The flag donated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is a “Stars and Bars” flag, separate from the battle flag commonly used to represent the Confederacy. Lamb says Marshall County has a rich Confederate heritage and the flag denotes the sacrifice made by the ancestors of current county residents who served in the Civil War. 

“The county sent two full companies to the Confederate Army while many other Marshall County boys and men crossed the border and joined the Army of Tennessee,” Lamb said in a Facebook post. “As a seventh generation Marshall Countian who had several ancestors that fought for the Confederacy, I’m proud to see this flag installed on the courthouse lawn in honor of our county’s rich heritage.”

Although the flag itself was donated by a local SCV branch, the county government paid to raise the pole used to display the flag. According to open records obtained by WKMS, the county paid $51.90 from the “miscellaneous line items” section of the budget to a local hardware store to procure concrete and other items needed to place the pole. Deputy Judge-Executive Brad Warning said two county workers “dug the hole, built the form for the concrete, poured the concrete, attached the pole to the concrete, and erected the pole.”

Although the cost of supplies was the only appropriation related to the flag reported by the government, Warning said a surveillance camera already owned by the county was installed by their IT department to monitor the flag. He said the camera was placed after an individual repeatedly lowered the flag without the permission of the county. No costs for installation or ongoing maintenance are associated with the camera, he said. 

The raising of the flag sparked outrage among many in the community and throughout the commonwealth. A petition to remove the flag has received nearly 300 signatures on the digital campaign platform Change.org. Statewide and national media outlets have reported on the flag raising. Historian Berry Craig also profiled the situation in an article published last week.  Additionally, the flag drew the attention of Kentucky’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In a letter to Judge-Executive Neal, NAACP leaders expressed their opposition to the flag. 

Credit NAACP

Some local government leaders are calling on the full Fiscal Court to take up discussion on the flag. Third District Commissioner Monti Collins in a Facebook post said he emailed Neal Monday morning to request the issue be placed on the court’s agenda for its next meeting. 

“In my humble opinion, this is not about removing the history of the Civil War,” Collins said.  “I am certainly not a proponent of taking down a historical monument that has been on site for years, but that is not the same as this issue. This issue is about erecting a new flag and flagpole.”

Marshall County Fiscal Court meetings are available for streaming on their Facebook page. You can find videos and minutes from previous meetings at their website.