Smithers Main Street. A Confederate flag hung across Main Street Saturday has raised the ire of community leaders. (Thom Barker photo)

Confederate flag taken down as quickly as it was mysteriously erected in Smithers

Flag went up early Saturday and was quickly removed by Town staff; police investigating as mischief

It was gone almost before anyone knew it was there, but a Confederate flag strung over Main Street in Smithers over the weekend has raised the ire of community leaders and the incident is under investigation by police.

“The Confederate flag is a specific symbol with a specific history,” wrote Smithers acting mayor Casda Thomas and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach in an op-ed piece provided to Black Press Media.

“It’s not only connected with the Confederate States’ battle during the American Civil War to protect their ability to own Black slaves, but also reappeared as a prominent symbol of white supremacists who organized throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s to oppose civil rights for African-Americans.

“Perhaps more alarming and relevant to the Confederate flag’s use today is its direct ties with the re-emerging White Nationalist and neo-Nazi movement both in the United States and even right here in Canada.”

RELATED: Man apologizes for displaying Confederate flag at anti-racism parade in Summerland

The flag went up early Saturday morning (Oct. 3) and was quickly removed by Town staff, Thomas said.

Smithers RCMP Staff Sgt. Terry Gillespie confirmed there is no law against displaying the flag, but they are investigating the incident as mischief because the perpetrator or perpetrators may have illegally accessed private property in order to accomplish its hanging.

He said no witnesses have come forward and they have no suspects.

The RCMP also has an open file on an incident involving Ministry of Transportation digital traffic signs being hacked the previous weekend. The road paving messages that had been displayed were replaced by messages including “Trump 2020,” “F*** Trudeau,” and “COVID-19 is a hoax.”

Gillespie said investigators have no evidence the two incidents are related, but acknowledged someone inclined to do one, might also be inclined to do the other.

This is not the first time Confederate flags have been raised on Main Street. In 2016, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump was elected, the flag showed up on one of the Town’s flag standards.

For some, raising the flag is a matter of free speech, but for others it rises to the level of hate speech and has been the subject of much debate. In Ohio this summer a bill proposing to prohibit the display and sale of the flag in public spaces was defeated in the State House of Representatives.

MORE NEWS: Pot shot fired near hikers at Dennis Lake

Thomas and Bachrach said they want to give whoever hung the flag the benefit of the doubt, but said there is no place for it in Smithers.

“To believe in the best in people means to believe that whoever hung the flag neither understood its connection to neo-Nazis nor intended to cause harm to others,” they wrote. “If that is the case, they have an opportunity to learn. However, if they did intend to cause harm, if they knew exactly what they were doing, then leaders at all levels have a responsibility to act swiftly and decisively in denouncing their actions.”

Other leaders from across the political spectrum have also denounced the action.

In a press release Oct. 3, the Wet’suwet’en Dinï’ze, Tsakë’ze and Skiy’ze said they were disappointed to see the flag on Main Street.

“The confederate flag is widely known as a symbol of white supremacy, the oppression of people of colour, and as a symbol of hate,” the release stated. “These kinds of racist acts are not acceptable and add further harm to our families’ wellbeing, especially the wellbeing of our children. We urgently ask for the public assistance to help identify who placed the flag and they be held accountable for their actions.”

Stikine provincial election candidate Nathan Cullen took a decidedly angry tone in a Facebook post.

“Everyone should live free of intimidation and brutal signs of racism and oppression,” he said.

“Whatever coward strung up a confederate flag on Main St., Smithers — know that you are wrong, unsupported and not going to scare anyone away.”

Rod Taylor, who is running against Cullen and a tireless advocate for free speech, however unpopular, downplayed the relevance of the Confederate flag in Canada, but nevertheless was not in favour of it being displayed in Smithers.

“I acknowledge the Confederate flag is not a good symbol,” he said. “There’s no benefit and probably a lot of harm in using it as a display in Canada… I just see it stirring up trouble so I would encourage those who have done this to find another way of expressing themselves.”



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

The TNRD’s free household hazardous waste round-up in Cache Creek has been rescheduled to take place on Nov. 1. (Photo credit: YouTube)
Hazardous Waste Round-up in Cache Creek moved to Nov. 1

Free event postponed by one week due to inclement weather

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read