State Rep. From Philly Removed Confederate Flag From Harrisburg Display

It was like a game of hot potato, but with the Confederate flag.

A flag display in Harrisburg is drawing quite a bit of controversy.

The Hanover Area Historical Society’s display of 50 flags, which signify different periods of North American history, might lose its Confederate flag – but not without some debate.

The summer display, which sits in the Capitol’s East Wing Rotunda, has featured the Confederate flag without controversy for years, display curator Debra Markle told PennLive.

But she found the flag missing Wednesday morning shortly before a press event.

State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, a Democrat from Philadelphia, told PennLive she took the flag down Tuesday night.

Brown, the chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the flag was offensive and that she removed it and turned it in to House officials. The flag was located in House Speaker Mike Turzai‘s office and placed back in its display at 11 a.m., Capitol Police told PennLive.

But by 11:45, the flag disappeared for a final time. A Department of General Services employee, Lori Sherlock, removed the flag. She told PennLive she was acting on a direct order from Governor Tom Wolf.

“The reason the governor asked to have it removed,” a spokesperson for Wolf told the Philly Voice, “is because the flag is a symbol of racism and hatred that shouldn’t be displayed on a state building.”

Brown addressed the issue at a press conference Wednesday:

“We need to ensure that our children learn from the past,” Brown said during the news conference. “Displaying the flag without the proper context misses the opportunity to teach the true history.”

This is the first time that the full display has been put up publicly since the June 2015 mass shootings that killed nine in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. After the shootings, South Carolina legislature voted to stop flying the Confederate flag over its Capitol.

“I was shocked to see the symbol of hate, murder and oppression on display in the state Capitol,” Brown said. “We are almost one year since Charleston. Any time I see anything like that I have to honor the Charleston Nine.

But Markle said told PennLive the flag is “part of American history.” It’s different, she said, because the historical society is framing its context and surrounding it with 49 other flags.

The PennLive article says the recent display does not, however, include some banners that signal more recent changes in history – like the rainbow flag connected to the LGBTQ movement.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.