Sons of Confederate Veterans sue over Confederate flag

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the city of Lexington on Thursday over its decision last year to ban the flying of the Confederate flag on city-owned light poles.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, argues that an ordinance limiting the type of flags that can be displayed on the light standards violates the constitutional free speech and due process rights of the Southern heritage group and a 1993 consent decree, which blocked the city's attempt to ban the display of the Confederate flag during a parade honoring Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Jackson and another Confederate icon, Robert E. Lee, are buried in Lexington and both had strong ties to the city of approximately 7,000.

City officials adopted the ordinance in September after they received hundreds of complaints last January, when Confederate flags were planted in holders on light poles to mark Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday in Virginia that falls on Friday.

The flags were provided by SCV, and the city authorized them to be flown on the city poles.

The SCV also paid for city workers to install the flags on approximately 40 poles.

The new ordinance, the first city policy on the placement of flags on city poles, states that only the city, Virginia and U.S. flags can be flown on downtown light poles. The ordinance does not limit other public displays of the Confederate flag within the city.

"The Sons assert that the ordinance was adopted due to the sole reason of the city's disapproval of the Sons' Constitutional rights to display historic Virginia state and Confederate flags," Brandon Dorsey, commander of the Stonewall Brigade of the SCV, said in a statement.

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