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Confederate Battle Flag within the Capitol: A ‘Jarring’ First in U.S. History

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A Muslim American faculty pupil stated he had fought again tears when he noticed the picture of a Trump supporter carrying the Confederate battle flag by the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday.

A Black Senate aide who for years has walked confidently by the halls of Congress stated his emotions of security had crumbled when he noticed the photograph.

And a Black historian stated she had instantly considered James Byrd, the Black Texas man who was dragged to loss of life by white supremacists in a pickup truck in 1998.

The historian, Mary Frances Berry, a professor of historical past on the University of Pennsylvania, stated she had felt “disgust” and recalled “wanting to scream.”

“To see it flaunted right in front of your face, in the United States Capitol, the heart of the government, was simply outrageous,” she stated.

Amid the pictures and movies that emerged from Wednesday’s rampage, the sight of a person casually carrying the Confederate battle flag exterior the Senate ground was a piercing reminder of the persistence of white supremacism greater than 150 years after the tip of the Civil War.

Months after statues of Confederate leaders and racist figures had been eliminated or torn down world wide, an unidentified man in bluejeans and a black sweatshirt carried the symbol of racism by the Ohio Clock hall, previous a portrait of Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, an abolitionist.

The emblem has appeared within the Capitol earlier than.

The Mississippi flag, which as soon as featured the Confederate image prominently, hung within the Capitol till June 2020, when it was changed after a vote by the State Legislature to take away the symbol.

But Wednesday was the primary time that somebody had managed to carry the flag into the constructing as an act of rebellion, in accordance with historians.

The man carrying the flag confronted much less stringent safety than that encountered by the Confederate troopers who did not penetrate Union forts guarding the Capitol through the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 11 and 12, 1864, stated William Blair, professor emeritus of historical past at Penn State and the previous director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center on the college.

“The Confederate flag made it deeper into Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, than it did during the Civil War,” he stated.

The sight, Professor Blair stated, was “jarring and disheartening.”

“There is so much confusion about people who fly that flag,” he stated. “But even if they try to divorce slavery from it — which you can’t — how do you justify waving the flag of a confederacy that tried to tear the country apart, then call yourself a patriot?”

Representative Colin Allred, a Black Democrat from Texas, stated his spouse had been texting him whereas he was on the House ground to see if he was secure and had despatched him a picture of the person with the flag.

The photograph was affirmation, he stated, that those that had stormed the Capitol had been “tied deeply” to white supremacism.

“That is something that will stay with me,” Mr. Allred stated. “They set up a noose and scaffolding on the Capitol Hill. This event has to be a wake-up call.”

Josh Delaney, a deputy legislative director for Senator Elizabeth Warren, stated he had been at home, watching the riot unfold on tv, when the photograph appeared on the display.

“It was like time stopped,” he stated. “My stomach dropped. I don’t know if I stopped breathing, but it was shock. I can only imagine that’s what it must be like to be really in shock.”

Mr. Delaney, who wrote in The Boston Globe about seeing the flag, is Black and grew up in Georgia, the place the flag was a painful however commonplace reminder of the place he was not welcome.

He stated he had by no means anticipated to see the flag within the Capitol, the place he has labored for greater than six years.

“I have always felt like this is the safest place I could ever be if anything ever happens,” Mr. Delaney, 31, stated. “To have that illusion shattered, I don’t know that I’ll ever have that same feeling again.”

Raheel Tauyyab, a junior on the University of Virginia, stated he had realized in regards to the flag from a professor who was monitoring the information in regards to the riot on his laptop throughout a digital class Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Tauyyab, 20, a Muslim American who stated his aim was to at some point work on the Capitol, stated he couldn’t neglect the traumatized look on his professor’s face.

“I won’t lie: I did shed a tear,” he stated. “It was really stabbing to the heart to see something like that happen.”

The Rev. Robert W. Lee IV, a great-great-great-great-nephew of Gen. Robert E. Lee who has supported broad removing of statues of his ancestor, stated he had been combating what he was planning to inform congregants on Sunday at his nondenominational church, the Unifour Church in Newton, N.C.

He stated he couldn’t get the sight of the flag “desecrating” the Capitol out of his thoughts.

“It shook me to my core in a way that other images haven’t over the past four years,” he stated. Since Wednesday, he stated, he has sat at his laptop and struggled to give you the fitting phrases.

“It struck me as something that, in this moment, as someone who is supposed to know what to say as a clergy person, I have nothing,” he stated. “I’ve got nothing on this.”

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