Sons of Confederate Veterans suing Natchitoches over battle flag ban

Sons of Confederate Veterans suing Natchitoches over battle flag ban

NATCHITOCHES, LA (KSLA) - An eight-page lawsuit details how the Louisiana Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are taking the City of Natchitoches to court over the Confederate battle flag.

During the city's famous Christmas parade in 2015, an historic first occurred when flying the flag was forbidden.

"Almost 25 years prior and we have never had any problems with anyone in the crowd," SCV Lieutenant Commander-In-Chief Paul Gramling told KSLA. "To be politically correct, they decided to ban us from the parade unless we carried just one or two flags that they approved."

Because of that ban, the Sons of Confederate Veterans chose not to march in the parade. Instead, they protested beside the parade with Confederate battle flags.

Gramling said the flags that were banned contained the St. Andrews Cross. Meanwhile, other flags like the first Confederate national flag, the Stars and Bars, were not banned.

According to Gramling, other flags made the cut too.

"The Bonnie Blue Flag, that was not banned," he said. "These are the only two national flags that were not banned."

The lawsuit, filed one week ago in Louisiana Western District federal court in Alexandria, claims the city and its leaders violated the nonprofit's First Amendment right to free speech and 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.

It claims the city had no rational basis for the ban and it grants excessive discretion to the mayor.

But outside of attorney's fees, the lawsuit demands no money.

Gramling said they just want flag access to the parade back.

"It's very simple: We want to be back in the parade and march with our flags," he said.

Court records show summons were sent on Wednesday to the defendants in the suit: The City of Natchitoches, Mayor Lee Posey and three unnamed members of the Christmas parade committee.

Gramling said the battle flag represents history, not hate and they want the city to recognize that.

"The flags that we fly are who we are," he said. "Teach them the truth about the Confederacy, about the Confederate symbols not be ruled by just a small group."

KSLA News 12 reached out to Mayor Posey, but he has not yet returned our calls.

Back in November 2015, Posey wrote a letter to the parade committee containing his opinion on the decision, citing:

"....Public comments have shown that many members of the general public find the Confederate Flag to be offensive.....taken by the public as an endorsement of a symbol that is viewed as racially inflammatory."

Posey's statement clarified that the public was allowed to display the Confederate battle flag, just not in the parade.

There is no notice yet about when this lawsuit's day in federal court will be.

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