Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose speaks during a press conference calling for a meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal to demand removal of all symbols of the Confederacy from state-owned and operated buildings, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Atlanta. 
Photo: Branden Camp/Special
Photo: Branden Camp/Special

NAACP, SCLC urge Gov. Deal to take down ‘symbols of hate’

Local leaders of the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference on Friday called on Gov. Nathan Deal to eliminate “symbols of hate” from government property.

At a news conference, Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta chapter of the in NAACP, and SCLC national President Charles Steele also hinted they may call for an economic boycott of the state if progress isn’t made on the issue.

The leaders zeroed in on the Confederate battle flag and Confederate figures at Stone Mountain Park. They described the flag and figures of Confederate leaders on the mountain as symbols to hate, slavery and white supremacy.

The Auburn Avenue news conference was held a day after local and federal authorities said two men left four Confederate battle flags at nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Police said they were working to identify the two men seen in several church surveillance videos released late Thursday.

Rose told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier that the news conference was held after Deal’s office canceled a meeting with the groups.

The Governor’s Office, however, disputes use of the word “canceled.”

“You can’t cancel a meeting you didn’t schedule,” spokesman, Brian Robinson told the AJC’s Greg Bluestein. “They sent in a meeting request form — which is the right way to do it — and we had to decline. The governor won’t be available tomorrow. I’m afraid the word choice is intentionally misleading and charged. That’s not helpful.”

Deal has said he wants a redesign of a state-sponsored license plate featuring the Confederate flag emblem, rather than have the plate phased out or eliminated entirely.

Regarding calls to alter the Confederate images on Stone Mountain, the governor said recently: “It’s not a debate that is useful.”

Rose told the AJC earlier his group is set on a three-pronged strategy to press its goals: “Rallies, boycotts, legislation.”

Thursday’s flag incident at the church and MLK National Historic Site was the latest involving the ongoing debate over the Confederate flag, sparked anew by the massacre of nine black church members in Charleston, S.C., the white supremacist suspect who embraces the flag and the battle over the flag in South Carolina, Georgia and elsewhere.

“This is just not Stone Mountain I’m talking about,” Steele said. “Were asking for all symbols of racism and the Confederacy to be eradicated.”

Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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