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

Tofino welcome sign. (Westerly file photo)
Housing proposal highlights capacity concerns in Tofino

Water supply, school and hospital all cited as council urges caution in growth.

Developer Andrew McLane, right, digs a shovel in the ground of Lot 13 as mayor Mayco Noel cheers on the idea of bringing more housing to West Coasters. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet council approves development permit for 33-lot housing project

“Mr. McLane, we wish you nothing but luck and we are counting on you.”

Beach fire remains, like charred driftwood, have long been a point of contention in Tofino, but the town’s municipal council isn’t ready to ban beach fires just yet after receiving an unprecedented response from community members opposed to a prohibition. (Westerly file photo)
Blaze of opposition prompts Tofino’s council to delay beach fire ban decision

“The period of the year where this challenge is most acute is behind us now.”

Thaddeus Lenover kisses his mushroom picking partner Teagan Evans on the cheek after a rainy day out in the woods harvesting wild mushrooms. (Nora O'Malley photo)
Mushroom pickers say it’s less busy this year

Mushroom picking partners Thaddeus Lenover and Teagan Evans spent the better part… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter. Photo supplied
Wanted man from Calgary may be on Vancouver Island

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter

A Pictograph panel found near Tlowitsis traditional territory near Kalogwis is attached in the archaeological report produced by the First Nation’s guardian watchmen.
Tlowitsis First Nation records 370 archaeological sites on traditional territories across B.C.

The Nation’s guardian watchmen mapped sites for research and to protect them from human disturbances

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for parts of Vancouver Island for Thursday and Friday.(File photo)
Snowfall expected in parts of Vancouver Island this week

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for north, east and inland Vancouver Island

More and more electric cars are on the road, but one Chevy Bolt owner was shocked to see how much his BC Hydro bill skyrocketed once he started charging the vehicle. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Mainland man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after buying electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

Most Read