The Confederate Flag Remains An Issue In Walton County

Jun 30, 2015

The Uhifelders petition to take down the Confederate Flag.
Credit Michelle Uhlfelder

Some Americans describe the Confederate flag as a symbol for injustice in the country. Others say it represents Southern heritage. One North Florida County is debating whether to remove the symbol from its courthouse lawn.

Daniel and Michelle Uhlfelder are living in Walton County. The couple started a petition to remove the confederate flag from the courthouse lawn.

Daniel is a local attorney who was unsuccessful in his 2002 attempt to remove the flag. The Uhlfelders were married in 2008. Michelle, who is from Atlanta, says she didn’t believe her husband when he first told where the flag was.

“I got out of my car, and he said what are you looking at,” says Michelle. “I said 'it’s real. I didn’t believe you'. He said 'yea, it really is. I tried in 2002 to take it down and we were not able to do it'. I said, 'oh my gosh Daniel, we have to do something about this'.”

The push to remove the flag comes in the wake of the Charleston church shooting. The Uhlfelders say the flag doesn’t represent unity.

“We want a more unifying symbol,” Daniel says. “In terms of we have the American flag, but we believe the confederate battle flag is not something that is a unifying symbol that should be at a public property, like a courthouse where people are seeking equal justice.”

But not everyone agrees with the idea to remove the flag. Ken and Donna Elliott signed a petition to keep the flag flying. Ken says it represents the South to him.

“It represents our heritage.” Ken says. “And even though the symbol of the flag for some reason has been associated with all the hate groups, that’s not what it stands for. It stands for the troops and the bravery of the war.”

In 2002, County Commissioners voted to keep the flag in place, but two new members have been elected to the Commission since then.  

Nearly one thousand local residents have petitioned to remove the flag. Meanwhile, two petitions to keep the symbol have about a thousand supporters put together.*

Officials will address if they should remove the confederate flag from the courthouse lawn on July 14 at a public meeting.

CORRECTION: The broadcast version of this story reported only one petition with 200 signatures to keep the flag.