PETALUMA (KRON) — The Confederate battle flag has been at the center of tension and debate in the country’s southern states following last week’s massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. After the shooting, images surfaced showing the suspected gunman waving the controversial banner and holding a gun.
Across the country, Confederate flags and statues are being removed from state buildings and taken off the shelves at various retail stores. Several of the publicly displayed symbols have been vandalized, and thousands of demonstrators have taken to social media and the streets to argue the meaning of the flag.
Here in the Bay Area, the battle flag of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army unit was raised high above a home on Lassen Drive in Petaluma, angering neighbors of this normally quite street.
“I was offended because nine people were just murdered, and the flag had a lot to do with it,” said neighbor Janice Cader-Thompson.
The owner of the flag, Travis, understands the controversy surrounding the banner, but his reason for raising the secession-era relic was to educate his neighbors and dispel misconceptions about its origin.
“I’m aware of the big backlash towards the Confederate flag, and unfortunately there’s a huge misconception about it,” Travis told KRON 4 News on Thursday.
“This flag isn’t even a Confederate national flag, it’s a just a battle flag,” he said.
Travis replaced the battle flag with the U.S. “Stars and Stripes” on Thursday afternoon. It’s unknown he if took down the Confederate banner due to pressure from neighbors or if he plans to raise it again.