Courts news

A six-year tug-of-war between the city of Ringgold and the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) seems to be resolved. The group has dropped its lawsuit, which centered on the removal of a flag at the historic Depot.

The ongoing difference of opinion came to a halt Monday night, Sept. 22 when Ringgold city manager Dan Wright informed the mayor and council that the group was finally dropping the case.

“The SCV has dismissed its case against the city,” Wright explained. “They requested dismissal of the case with prejudice.”

The withdrawal of the suit comes after it was supposed to be heard in Catoosa County Civil Court in July, but was then pushed back to November.

The dispute between the two sides, which has been going on since 2008, began after the city decided to remove the Confederate battle flag from a flagpole at the historic Ringgold Depot.

On March 28, 2008, the city council voted 3-2 to take down the Confederate battle flag that had been flying high above the Depot to honor soldiers who had fought in or who were from Catoosa County.

The decision to remove the flag came after numerous citizens in the city’s African-American community urged the council to remove the flag, as they felt it was a symbol of hate.

The flag was then replaced by the blue and white Hardee-Cleburne flag, a regimental flag of Gen. Patrick Cleburne, who defended Ringgold Gap in 1863.

That decision sparked a new battle for many citizens, especially those belonging to the SCV group.

Tom Poteet, a Catoosa County citizen since 1942, filed a suit against the city on behalf of the SCV stating that the city was wrong in removing a piece of history, and that it is discredited a number of soldiers who fought for the country.

Ray McBerry, who serves as division commander of the Georgia SCV, spoke before the council in July urging the city to compromise in the matter, but the city would not negotiate nor comment on the matter at the advice of the city attorney, Jim Bisson.

McBerry summed up the offer from the SCV at the time by explaining that since the city was against having the actual battle flag up, the group would appreciate at least having the Second National flag flying in its place.

“We felt that we had a suitable and appropriate compromise on the table,” McBerry explained on July 24. “We’re prepared to fight this thing as long as it takes, and we’ll see it through even through the Georgia Court of Appeals. We’re just glad that we have history on our side.”

Evidentially, something happened between then and now to change McBerry or the group’s mind regarding its push.

McBerry did not return calls seeking comment in the days following the withdrawal.