Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flag Stolen From Tennessee Cemetery

Confederate flag at center of debate stolen By Robert Sorrell

A Confederate flag placed at historic Green Hill Cemetery this October, which became the center of controversy, has been reported stolen.

Ptl. Justin Pearce of the Elizabethton Police Department reported on the theft Sunday. Pearce said he was dispatched to Green Hill Cemetery, which is located next to the Tractor Supply Company in Elizabethton. He spoke to William Hicks, who said he observed the Confederate flag, which he placed in October, had been stolen.

Hicks said he last saw the flag about 7 p.m. Saturday and noticed it was missing around 8 a.m. Sunday.

According to a police report, Cpl. Curtis Bullock attempted to lift latent prints from the 30-foot flag pole but did not recover any evidence. There were no suspects at the time of Pearce’s report.

On Monday, Investigator David Peters was assigned the case. Peters said he has read the initial report and began the investigation but has no leads or suspects. He added that there is not any video surveillance at the cemetery, or any video of the cemetery from the adjacent Tractor Supply.

Peters also investigated the theft of an iron Southern Cross of Honor from the grave of a Confederate soldier in Highland Cemetery. The theft was reported in early October by a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Peters said he received a tip in the iron cross case, but it led to a dead-end.

The Confederate flag at Green Hill Cemetery was raised in October by the SCV in commemoration of four Confederate soldiers buried on the property, including 1st Lt. Robert J. Tipton.

On Oct. 22, Hicks said the Third National flag, a Confederate flag, was placed on the pole during the ceremony, which featured several guest speakers, costumed re-enactors and entertainment. After Hicks discovered the flag was missing on Sunday, he replaced it with the Naval Jack, or “Battle Flag.” He explained to the STAR that this flag was used by commands to direct units in battle.

The raising of the flag was the center of some controversy in October, after the SCV announced it would be placed at the historic cemetery. The Watauga Historical Association, which has preserved the property since the 1980s, has voiced its disapproval of the Confederate flag’s placement, primarily citing that Green Hill Cemetery is not a military cemetery.

In addition to the new Naval Jack flag, there are also a few smaller Confederate flags, as well as American flags, at the cemetery.