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 last forum before the election on Saturday focused on health care.
Boundary-Similkameen candidates talk health care over digital forum

The Support Our Health Care Society hosted the forum

The riding of Boundary-Similkameen has been held by the B.C. Liberals since 2009. (File image)
Past elections showed Liberal support in Boundary-Similkameen

Since 2009, riding has been represented by Liberal MLAs

Greenwood’s Volunteer Fire Department attended a vehicle accident on Highway 3 Friday morning, Oct. 23. Photo courtesy of Mayor Barry Noll.
BREAKING — 3 accidents on Highway 3, 33 in Greenwood, Rock Creek

“The roads are absolutely horrible right now,” Midway RCMP

CEO Wendy Higashi said the mistake was the first miscount after a Greenwood election. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Province given wrong vote count after Greenwood byelection

Miscount first in city’s history, according to Chief Election Officer

Midway RCMP confirmed thieves broke in to South Gold Storage in Greenwood Saturday, Oct. 10. File photo
Midway RCMP looking into burglary at Greenwood storage facility

Police have recovered a stolen bicycle, but a four-wheel utility vehicle is still missing

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

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

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

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

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

Most Read