The not-always-civil war on the Confederate flag is hardly confined to South, where people look fondly upon their ancestors escapades in human trafficking. It's touched Tom Petty, NASCAR races, and even Minnesota Fourth of July parades. It's also alive and well in small-town South Dakota.
Between the Confederate flag debate and nationwide cries of police mistreating black people, wearing the emblem of slavery is an exceptionally controversial look for cops right now. Yet officers in Gettysburg, S.D., aren't unstitching patches from their uniforms.
A mini-dustup over the patch, which features American and Confederate flags crossed over a Civil War-era canon, emerged after a South Dakota man wrote to the governor asking him to pull the patch. When the guv's office said it was a local issue Lynn Hart, who is half black and half Native American, went public with his beef. While he lives more than 200 miles away in Flandreau, S.D., Hart worries how black families would feel if they were pulled over by one of Gettysburg's two (yes, two) police officers, the Grand Forks Herald reports.
"If a black family were crossing through SD in Gettysburg got stopped by police they would likely feel terrorized" pic.twitter.com/xxj4queEZi
Like a lot of tiny Midwestern towns, Gettysburg's citizenry isn't exactly a diversity rainbow. According to the latest census info, the town of 1,200 is packed with old whiteys. About half its residents are over 50, and less than a handful of black people make their home in Gettysburg — “Where the Battle Wasn't.”
Although the nearest Waffle House is two states away, Gettysburg cops insist the Southern symbol is intertwined with the town's history and is not racist. The Potter County city was founded in 1883 by Civil War soldiers from both sides who buried their muskets to start new lives together, the town's museum worker tells the Herald. Accordingly, the double-flagged patch — coincidentally created by a South Carolina man — was intended as a symbol of unification.
As of Thursday afternoon, a Potter County News poll showed 67 percent of online voters did not think the patch should be removed.
The Gettysburg Police Department took to Facebook to say it will not change the patch, sparking a few jeers but mostly supportive comments.
The GPD kept it classy responding to one particularly committed hater who played the Barney Fife card.
“Mayberry was a very pleasant and friendly town as is Gettysburg,” the department responded.
Send news tips to Michael Rietmulder.