PITTSBORO — The political discussion regarding symbols of the Confederacy moved beyond the Chatham County Board of Commissioners and into the chambers of the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners Monday night.
Three people addressed the board during public comment to discuss enforcement of town ordinances regarding flags. Under the town’s section six ordinances, prohibitions are in place against planting flags in the public right-of-way as well as erecting flags of extraordinary size in Pittsboro. The speakers referenced both the rally that occurred two weeks ago surrounding the Confederate monument that sits in front the Chatham County Historic Courthouse and a large Confederate flag that had recently been erected on US-64 Business East.
Following the meeting, Pittsboro Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck told the Chatham News + Record that a “notice of violation” was sent to the flag owner who lived in Pittsboro’s extra-territorial jurisdiction.
Mark Barroso, who has advocated for the removal of the Confederate statue, spoke about the flag erected on US-64 which appears to be on the property of Sam White, according to Chatham County tax records. He argued the flag will have a detrimental effect on the town, which is trying to draw new business and growth.
“Don’t take my word that the Confederate flag is bad for business, look at NASCAR,” Barroso said. “They’ve banned the flag on their broadcasts after the massacre in Charleston because racists are using it for their cause. Their advertisers didn’t want to be associated with it.”
Pittsboro resident Elizabeth Haddix also spoke about violations of the town’s ordinances during the dueling rallies at the courthouse earlier this month, saying that, with photographic support, numerous Confederate supporters had planted Confederate flags in the public right-of-way. She said when she asked various police officers to ask them to be removed, she was told they were on “state property” and they would not enforce “non-criminal state law.” When Haddix noted at the time that the flags were in violation of both state law and town ordinance, she claimed she was “physically assaulted by one of the flag owners.”
A third speaker, Stephanie Terry, also shared her concerns about the flag as well as “flaggers carrying open rifles.” Terry said she “should not feel threatened” in her community and that it reminded her that “there was a time when African-Americans could not go downtown on certain days.” She said the flag was a “terroristic point of view for African-Americans.”
At the conclusion of the public comment period, Pittsboro Mayor Cindy Perry noted that “we share your concerns for your personal safety” and assured the speakers that the situation will “be addressed quickly and efficiently.”
Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.