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

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

The firefighters at the Mesachie Lake fire hall could soon be working out of a new retrofitted building if the Cowichan V alley Regional District is successful with its application for a $350,000 federal grant to fund the project. (File photo)
Major retrofit planned for Mesachie Lake fire hall

CVRD applies for $350,000 federal grant

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy requires emergency treatment 3 times after ingesting drugs from Chemainus parks

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

The Cowichan Valley School District is holding an online session to discuss the future of Koksilah Elementary School, closed since 2013. (File photo)
What’s the future of the old Koksilah Elementary School?

The district is hoping to collect feedback on options for the future of the school.

Jim Neiser of Neiser Sales, Service & Rentals Ltd. died suddenly on Jan. 4. after suffering an apparent cardiac event at work. (Submitted photo)
Prominent Lake Cowichan businessman Jim Neiser dead at 63

Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day said the long-time laker will be missed.

The Judy Hill Gallery took home top prize for its window display during the Christmas season from the Downtown Duncan BIA. (Submitted photo)
Business notes: Judy Hill Gallery wins festive window display contest

A look at what’s going on in the Cowichan business community

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Most Read