Courts say the city can ban the federal flag in a veterans parade

Atlanta (AP) —The Georgian city did not violate the constitutional rights of the Southern Allied Veterans Group from its annual parade honoring veterans of the U.S. War, the Federal Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. bottom.

Richard Leak and Michael Dean were able to attend the annual Old Soldiers Day Parade, but failed to display the battle ensign, after city officials said in August 2019 Alpharetta, a suburb of Atlanta, the son of a Southern Allied veteran. I sued Letta. The federal civil rights proceeding accused the city of violating the group’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment and Article 14.

In June 2020, Judge William Ray of the US District Court ruled in favor of the city, recognizing that the parade was equivalent to a government speech. Leak and Dean have appealed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals. A committee of three judges from the Court of Appeals heard the case on Friday and announced on Tuesday in support of the lower court’s ruling.

“We affirm that the Government is not obliged to allow the rebel flag to be placed in the Veterans Parade they fund and organize under Articles 1 and 14 of the Amendment.” And William Pryor Circuit Judge Written in opinion..

In protest against racial injustice, the combat emblem with a blue X and 13 white stars on a red background was accused and removed along with other symbols of the Navy. In 2020 Mississippi dropped a flag with a South Army theme And elsewhere, a monument to the southern figures, Including Robert E. Lee I came down.

The city of Alpharetta won on Tuesday, but the conflict eventually ended the parade.

Leak, who was contacted by phone on Tuesday, said he had never seen the opinion of the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and if he did, he would not comment. Could not contact Dean. Pair’s lawyer, Kyle King, said in an email that he was in court on Tuesday and was not in a position to provide meaningful comments. James Drinkard, assistant city administrator for the city of Alpharetta, said in an email that the city had not commented on the issue pending in court.

Pryor detailed the history of the controversy in his opinion:

After the Civil War, Alpharetta started the Day of the Soldier parade to honor veterans of the war, but stopped holding it a few years later. The parade was reopened in 1952 at the prompt of a group of residents who wanted to honor local veterans, and the city has sponsored it every year since then.

Leak, a member of the Southern Allied Veterans Roswell Mills Camp Sands, completed an application in July 2019 for the group to participate in the parade on August 3, about a month later. Participants holding the unit flag. “We are dedicated to preserving the memories of our ancestors who served in the Civil War and ensuring that the Southern view of the conflict is maintained,” Leak explained.

The city advertised the parade on its website with the aim of “congratulating and honoring Alpharetta veterans who upheld the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all veterans, especially all in the United States.” ..

The city’s assistant administrator, Drinkard, said the parade was aimed at uniting the community and celebrating American veterans, expressing concern about the participation of an organization dedicated to honoring US soldiers. I responded. The letter said, “The federal battle ensign has become a symbol of division, which most civilians consider to symbolize oppression and slavery.” The division undermined the parade’s goals, and with the support of the mayor, the city decided not to allow the parade to display the Battle Ensign of the South Army.

The letter agrees that the son of a Southern Allied veteran can participate without a flag and “does nothing to undermine the event’s goal of uniting our community to celebrate American veterans. I need to do it. “

Three days before the parade, Leak and Dean sued city officials. They sought monetary damages for infringing their rights and sought a court order permitting them to participate in the parade with the federal battle ensign that year and in the future.

The parade went on schedule. A group of Southern Allied veterans’ sons did not participate, and instead their sympathizers flew the Southern Allied combat ensign along the parade route.

A few months later, December 2019, Alpharetta city council votes Stop spending taxpayer money to fund the Old Soldiers Day Parade and effectively end it. Alpharetta is a city of more than 57,000 people located about 25 miles (40 km) north of downtown Atlanta.