In 1860-61, eleven southern states seceded from the United States to protect the institution of slavery, forming the Confederate States of America and precipitating the Civil War. During the war, the Confederacy and its military forces used a variety of flags, but the flag that became most associated with the Confederacy was the so-called "battle flag." Organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans adopted the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage but the flag also served as a potent symbol of slavery and white supremacy, which has caused it to be very popular among white supremacists in the 20th and 21st centuries. Since the end of the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag, and other imagery of the Confederacy have been appropriated and continue to be perpetuated by groups as symbols of hate, terror, intolerance, and as supportive of the institution of slavery.
Today, as in the past, public display of the Confederate battle flag continues to instill fear, intimidation, and act as a direct threat of violence towards others. Further, throughout recent protests and events to recognize the Black Lives Matter movement, counter-protestors have brought Confederate battle flags to intimidate peaceful protestors. Just this year, insurrectionists carried the Confederate battle flag as they stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th, 2021, threatening our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power.
The Confederate battle flag has always been recognized as a deeply offensive symbol of opposition to civil rights legislation, integration, justice, education, and access to equal opportunity, and to many groups, especially African Americans, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate, racism, exclusion, oppression, and violence. Its symbolism and history are directly linked to the enslavement, torture, and death of millions of African Americans.
This resolution builds on past actions of the City of Minneapolis, including the passage of a resolution declaring racism a public health emergency and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation process to address systemic racism and harms perpetrated against communities of color. It further aligns with the Mission and Vision for the City of Minneapolis.