VIRGINIA

Sons of Confederate Veterans sue over Confederate flag

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The lawsuit was filed by a division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is headquartered in Columbia, Tenn. It names the city of Lexington, seven city council members and the city manager, T. Jon Ellestad. Ellestad referred questions to the city's attorney, Larry Mann, who declined to comment until he could review the court filing.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans rallied supporters last September when the city conducted a hearing on the ordinance.

Opponents said it was an affront to the men who fought in the Civil War in defense of the South.

But many speakers complained that the flag was an offensive, divisive symbol of the South's history of slavery and shouldn't receive the city's tacit endorsement by allowing it to fly atop light poles.

The Confederate flag has been a lightning rod in the South, especially among black southerners who consider it a symbol of slavery.

The NAACP launched an economic boycott of South Carolina in 1999 about the Confederate flag that flew atop the Statehouse dome and in the chambers of the House and Senate.

A compromise in 2000 moved the flag to a monument outside the Statehouse. Dorsey has said the Lexington snub is particularly painful because of Lee's and Jackson's ties to the city. Jackson taught at VMI before the Civil War.

He became widely known as "Stonewall" after the first Battle of Manassas. Lee, who led Confederate forces during the Civil War before surrendering at Appomattox in 1865, became president of what is now Washington & Lee University.

Besides a spot on city light poles for Confederate flags, the lawsuit also seeks attorneys' fees and unspecified punitive damages.

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