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Senate Bill Would Ban Confederate Battle Flag From Capitol Grounds

Michigan Senate
Reginald Hardwick

A state Senate Democrat has sponsored a bill to ban display of the Confederate battle flag in the state Capitol building or on the Capitol grounds.

Senator Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) called for the ban after demonstrators carried the flag during Michigan Capitol protests, and a Republican lawmaker wore the pattern on a facemask.

Santana says the flag has a long history and its symbolism is obvious.

“You know, you saw many people being lynched and the Confederate flag was one of the symbols that was there," Santana said. "When you look at groups like the KKK, they utilized the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred.”

Santana says the flag is a form of hate speech.

“We can’t continue down this path of oppressing people through hatred symbols that really are embedded in our country’s history,” she said.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

It’s chaired by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake). His spokesperson says Shirkey is opposed to limits on free speech, even when he disagrees.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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