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Confederate flag debate a way of life in Rocky Mount neighborhood

Posted June 24, 2015
Updated July 10, 2015

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— States and retailers have taken steps to remove the Confederate battle flag from landmarks and stores, but one Rocky Mount man is standing his ground.

Edward Lee West has had the flags surround his Arrington Avenue home for years, but after the killings of nine people during Bible study inside a historic black Charleston, S.C. church last week, neighbors said West added more flags.

One flag, planted on top of his home, can be seen a block away, said neighbor Charles Little. He believes the flags emphasize a certain message.

“It means I don’t like you people in my neighborhood,” said Little, who is black. “To me, those flags represent that I owned you people.”

The Confederate battle flag was recently thrusted into national debate after the accused church shooter was seen in pictures embracing it. A friend of the suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, said the accused killer wanted to start a race war.

Officials in North Carolina, South Carolina and other southern states have distanced themselves from the historic symbol. Gov. Pat McCrory wants to stop new license plates bearing the flag. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley used his executive power, the first southern governor to do so, to remove four flags with secessionist symbols from a large monument to rebel soldiers outside his state’s capitol, according to news reports.

Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears are among a group of retailers that have announced plans to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.

Opponents say the flag is a symbol of racism used by the Confederacy, which supported slavery, and then by groups such as the Klu Klux Klan. Proponents say the flag is about heritage and pride.

As for West, whose house sits in a mostly African-American neighborhood, neighbors believe the flags are not coming down anytime soon. The flags are protected speech on private property, which is surrounded by a fence, barbed wire and signs that read "No Trespassing" and "Keep Out."

“I can respect (West’s right to free speech), but I do not respect the fact that he is flaunting it so much in our face,” Little said.

West could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

60 Comments

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  • Curmilus Dancy II Jun 26, 2015
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    Someone asked me what did I think about this? Absolutely nothing. What I did say was that I have no problem with him having them on his property and no problem with others having it on their property and that means on their person as well. And don’t forget their license tags. This let me know who celebrate their so-called history through the flag of confusion even among them per Flags of the Confederate States of America – Wikipedia. Anyone that knows me know that I have been speaking out against the Rebel Flag since the late 80’s so this is nothing new to me. I am having a flashback. As I stated back then, don’t include me in your mess because you support the confusion because I can think for myself. But what tickles the hell out of me the most is when Ignant Safe Negroes talking about they support the confusion. For all of the folks who like being ignant to the definition of the Confederate Flag by the persons whom designed them and the history behind them, I love it. It is n

  • Robert Batchelor Jun 25, 2015
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    AMEN

  • Joaquín Kobayashi Jun 25, 2015
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    Actually it is a symbol of racism as attested to by the individual who designed it.

  • Joaquín Kobayashi Jun 25, 2015
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    West should be allowed to keep his flags. It is his property after all. Would be awesome if his neighbors started putting up counter flags though.

  • Tammy Rush Jun 25, 2015
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    Clickable link:

    http://www.wral.com/rocky-mount-man-charged-with-assault-with-a-deadly-weapon/7462499/

  • Pete Knowles Jun 25, 2015
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    Letha, you say the south was in the process of freeing their slaves when the war began? I've been a civil war historian for 40 yrs. (I'm 60 ) and never heard or read that. Please tell the source, if it exists other than in your own mind. Scroll back through these posts and read what Vice President Steven said about the "negro" and how their race was inferior to whites and such. Southern sovereignty my ............ Also the war began with the first shot at Ft. Sumter. You can't quote history by using your own "facts". I use the word facts very loosely in your case.

  • Letha Book Jun 25, 2015
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    Wow, you seem to think that the war was started over some humane act of the North to free the slaves. You are the one who doesn't know history. Answer me, why did our good Northern brothers ship Africans to America to be sold.... the South didn't operate slave ships. Less than 6% of Southerners owned slaves in 1863 (US Census). It was about the right to be sovereign. Do your homework Cary Tom. Would you like to talk about the Northern slave owners or the fact that the South was in the process of freeing their slaves when the war of Northern Aggression begin. Lincoln did start the war after the first states had seceded and then NC, Virgina and Kentucky joined them.

  • Cary Tom Jun 25, 2015
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    I love the quote that the civil war was a war against northern aggression. I did not know there was a North America and South America before 1965. The racist southerners want everybody to believe the South was some entire sovereign entity invaded by another country. This flag waved for that phony nation for only 5 years and in the 150! since its been a racist symbol

  • Ashley Moore Jun 25, 2015
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    I can honestly say that thought has never crossed my mind when looking at anybody.

  • Cary Tom Jun 25, 2015
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    I love the internet...

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