Gettysburg PD Defends Racist Traitor Flag on Uniforms

I’m with Mr. Kurtz, who rightly gripes about Gettysburg’s tone-deafness on their display of the traitor flag on their city police uniforms.

So would be the writers of a black newspaper in Kansas in 1893:

Why should we praise the gray and blue
And honor them alike?
The one was false, the other true—
One wrong, the other right.

—poem published in honor of “Decoration Day,” Kansas State Ledger (weekly black newspaper), 1893.05.30; reprinted in Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865–1900, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993, p. 157

Right now in Gettysburg, South Dakota, city police officers proudly display the flag of traitors on their uniforms. The Gettysburg PD official uniform patch shows a Confederate flag, along with the proper American flag and a cannon. A black-Indian Marine from Flandreau, Lynn Hart, has suggested that Gettysburg police might be sending the wrong message by carrying the Stars and Bars on their uniforms. In response, the Gettysburg PD is flying the traitor flag even more proudly, adding it Monday as their Facebook page profile photo, complete with this defiant declaration:

Screen cap, Gettysburg SD Police Department, Facebook post, 2015.07.13
Screen cap, Gettysburg SD Police Department, Facebook post, 2015.07.13

The history in question is the settlement of Gettysburg by Civil War veterans, Union and traitor. The city adopted this police patch only recently, in what sounds more like a marketing ploy than an attempt to engage in responsible public speech:

“We’ve had it there since 2009. Gettysburg was founded by Civil War vets and we were trying to get our (Civil War) reenactment started. That’s the whole reason it was started,” Gettysburg Mayor Bill Wuttke told the American News. “It was strictly to honor our heritage. Nothing was ever said about racism in planning this” [Kelda J.L. Pharris, “Confederate Flag on Gettysburg Police Uniforms Draws Controversy,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.15].

Gettysburg Police Chief Bill Wainman sees no racism in flying the Confederate flag:

“You know, I think it goes directly to the history of the city, how we were founded and who we were founded by,” Gettysburg Police Chief Bill Wainman said by phone Tuesday. “There’s absolutely no racism in that patch. For us it symbolizes unity between the north and the south” [Pharris, 2015.07.15].

Gettysburg, SD, city police patch
No, really, Gettysburg police, it is a racist flag.

Sorry, Chief. The flag of traitors who seceded from the Union so they could continue to treat blacks as property is absolutely racist. The Confederate flag is as inseparable from racism as the Nazi flag. NASA could slap swastikas next to the Stars and Stripes on our rockets to represent German–American unity and honor the history of Wernher von Braun and other former Nazi scientists who got us to the moon (suddenly I want to go watch Iron Sky again), but only willful blindness could delink that display from racism.

Cut the crap, Gettysburg. A Minnesota firefighter got suspended for flying a Confederate flag on a fire truck, because public officials have no business using public property to broadcast racist messages. (That firefighter pretended that displaying the Confederate flag has nothing to do with slavery.) If you want to “honor” “history” by staging a Civil War re-enactment on fields where no Civil War battle was fought, knock yourselves out on your own time. But don’t subject citizens to a racist display on your cops’ uniforms or to your defiant defenses of your crudeness.

Related: Now let’s see if the Atlanta NAACP can get Davis, Lee, and Jackson off Stone Mountain.

63 Responses to Gettysburg PD Defends Racist Traitor Flag on Uniforms

  1. Roger Elgersma

    When they say that there was no talk about racism when accepting that racist flag, then the people that accepted it are extremely racist. ANYONE that accepts that flag is a racist. Not only racist but they accept enslaving human beings in the land of the free. Absolutely disgusting.

  2. Porter Lansing

    Stone Mountain first. Then the fleur-di-lis on the Saints helmets. The symbol was branded onto runaway slaves after an ear was cut off to show property rights.

  3. Bob Newland

    Gettysburg will remove the stars and bars from cops’ sleeves. I have $10 to give to the DakFreePressian who comes closest to naming the day its removal first gets mentioned in the SoDak press (any medium thereof).

    My guess is 15 September 2015. If I am closest, Grudznick gets to pay me. Grudz agreed to that at the meal during which he stiffed me for the bill.

  4. We should ban all American flags prior to January 1, 1863 just to cover all bases. How could Betsy Ross, in good conscience sew a flag for a nation that condoned slavery? In fact, the flag that inspired the National Anthem was a flag of a country that allowed slavery. We should change the National Anthem to Chuck Berry’s ‘Back in the USA’. As long as we concentrate on symbolism, we don’t have to do anything of substance.

  5. Bob Newland

    Actually, all flags are and have been instruments of great mischief. If the Lakota had had a flag planted on Harney Peak, there’s a good chance Custer wouldn’t have planted the Stars and Strikes there.

  6. Jeff Barth

    A bad decision in “Cow Pie”. Perhaps cattle residue should be on the patch.

  7. Paul Seamans

    The one thing about this whole story that amazes me is, “Gettysburg has a police force?”

  8. Roger Cornelius

    If racist South Carolina can remove the American swastika from its capital grounds and send it to a museum, anybody can remove the hateful symbol.
    Republican tea party princess Governor Nikki Haley did not advocate the removal of the American swastika for political correct reasons, she wanted it removed for what it represented.
    Apparently there many that don’t realize the Civil War is over and the American swastika lost and America won.
    Too many Americans think that we are still fighting that dreadful war and want to maintain their right to publicly hate and oppose the country they were born in that gave them that right. The flying and displaying of this symbol of hate seems to be more and more of “I hate America”.
    If those that still think the Civil War is not over and want to fight for their heritage, perhaps it is time to renew the Civil War and once again bring it to its rightful conclusion.

  9. mike from iowa

    How many CBFs show up in Sturgis and will there be more than usual this year?

  10. Roger Cornelius

    mike from iowa,

    The rally has been gearing up in the past few days, three weeks before the official start, and there are already trucks and motorcycles with the American swastika flying.

  11. The fleur-de-lis, too, Porter? Mais non! I see the dark history of that symbol in the code noir of Louisiana. It’s history is more complicated than that of the traitor flag. Perhaps it’s more like the swastika, with a long history preceding its grim use in Louisiana?

  12. wonder if gettysburg had a youth contest to help come up with the police logo, or if the uniform allowance just covered the 2009 administrative decision?

    was the mayor’s decision to uphold the confederate flag in any sense like former mayor kookier’s decision to continue city council prayer after public complaint? the custer council and commissin ought to have a logo of a swashbuckling genl./col. custer-good for tourism!!

  13. We should make them change the name of that town. Gettysburg. Really?

  14. I’ll pay you, Bob, but don’t be late for breakfast again, OK?

  15. I think that there must be a balance in the history of the flag (a historical symbol) and the flag as a symbol of pushing back against the Union (our current government). If a confederate flag was displayed inside a museum of civil war history, then I think it would be okay. If a flag is displayed images that depict history, then I think that should be acceptable. It is not acceptable when the flag is displayed over government structures, government supported items (license plates), or as a commercial tool (South Dakotans running around with them attached to their pick-up trucks).

    What Gettysburg has on the patch is not offensive in my opinion. They depict a concept of history (battle of Gettysburg). We have to be careful of washing out history. It is wrong to ignore that slavery was a significant part of the Civil War as Texas wants to do in school books, it would also be wrong to ignore that Gettysburg has a connection with the Civil War and the aftermath.

  16. Bob Newland

    Grudz, you are a POS.

  17. Bob Newland

    MJL, if Gettysburg SD wants to commemorate the Civil War, it should have a symbol of a black (wo)man in chains on its patch instead of a stupid f—ing flag.

  18. You say that to all the breakfast guys, Bob.

  19. Deb Geelsdottir

    Some symbols are more complicated because they have a long history of use. I’m thinking of the swastika and fleur-de-lis. I’m sure there are many others too. I’m not aware of any previous iterations of the confederate flag. It’s only been a symbol of evil. That’s very unambiguous.

  20. Nice F Bomb Bob, maybe you are the POS.

  21. It is interesting that the flag that is being revered is that of a conquered group, not that of the victors. Gettysburg is the war site of mass casualties, and it’s hard to understand why we are honoring killing.

    Surely Gettysburg has more attributes to celebrate instead of who settled there.

  22. Deb makes a good point about the unambiguity of the Confederate flag. That means the historical analogy to the swastika works against it even harder: if we can agree that placing a swastika, with its farther reaching and diverse cultural meanings, on official government items would be improper, then we can agree that placing the unambiguously racist and traitorous Confederate flag on official government items is more clearly improper.

    Gracie, I keep bringing it back to the fact that it’s not just the flag of the losers of a war, but traitorous losers, losers who committed a crime against our country. We graciously let them back into the Union, and we actually allowed them to overturn Reconstruction, kick blacks back out of elected office and the voting booth, and subject blacks to vile discrimination for another eighty years while the Union focused on routing the Indians and becoming a global hegemon. We could have just eradicated the South and hung them all for treason; instead, we let them live to lynch blacks. The Confederate flag is as much a symbol of the North’s failure to stick with Reconstruction and equal rights as it is of the South’s racism.

    Would we accept the U.S. military placing the Confederate flag on its uniform?

  23. MJL, the cop patch is a government-supported display on public servants’ uniforms. Shouldn’t that, by your logic on government buildings and license plates, be improper?

    Police uniforms aren’t the forum to educate people about history; our schools, museums, and other cultural museums are.

    Connecting what MJL and Gracie say, if the City of Gettysburg thinks it’s good marketing to have their police officers reminding folks that their town was founded in part by traitors and racists, well, someone needs to hire a marketing consultant.

  24. Leslie, the Pharris article suggests the patch didn’t come from a contest, but rather from South Carolina: “The patch was created in 2009 in honor of our founding fathers by Scot Barsdale, who resides in South Carolina, after learning the history of Gettysburg from then Chief of Police, Gayle Kludt.” I’m intrigued by the fact that a resident of the first state to secede, the state that flew the traitor flag on its statehouse grounds for over 50 years as an act of protest against the civil rights movement, is the source of this logo.

  25. Bob Newland

    Greg, it is a biological and political fact that I can not be a POS, while grudznick proves (s)he is a POS daily.

  26. Nick Nemec

    I suspect there were damn few Confederate veterans who helped found Gettysburg. Every Memorial Day here in Highmore, a town not that far from Gettysburg, we read a list of all veterans buried in Hyde County, the list of Union veterans is very long and contains last names of families who have lived in the area since shortly after the Civil War, there is one lone Confederate veteran.

  27. Holy cow, Bret! There they are, U.S. Marines displaying a traitor flag. What do their CO and the Commander-in-Chief think of that?

  28. Nick, does Gettysburg have a comparable memorial plaque? And if it has any honored war dead, should they be memorialized under the flag of their treason? If there are former Nazi prison guards in the U.S., should we honor them by flying Nazi flags over their graves?

  29. Oops! The AAN left out a couple letters. I learn from that the Gettysburg police patch was designed by Scott Barksdale, a long-time police officer who runs “Barksdale’s Custom Patches.” Barksdale used a similar design (U.S. flag, traitor flag, cannon) on his patch for the Appomattox K-9 unit patch.

  30. Says Mayor Bill Wuttke: “We’re a small community in central South Dakota, and if some blacks want to come in here we’ll respect them…. We had an air base out here, and we had the blacks that came, and there was none of them that felt like we were discriminating against them” [reported in “Gettysburg Won’t Remove Confederate Flag from Police Patch,” AP via Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2015.07.14].

  31. bret clanton

    somebody stop me…….oh wait…..there is no end….

  32. Interesting quote from Jim Kent in the top link Larry shares:

    “Point of interest from the Dakota Sunseet Museum — in Gettysburg: “The town was founded in the spring of 1883 by a joint stock company consisting of General O. L. Mann, Major J. G. Walker, Captain J. B. Weeks, Captain James Bryson, General Pierce and Asheal Todd.” All were Civil War veterans, but served in the Union Army.

    In any event, the rebels lost the Battle of Gettysburg — and losers don’t get to fly their flags [Jim Kent, “Civil War Finally Comes to an End,” Rapid City Journal, 2015.07.16].

    So did any Confederate soldiers help found Gettysburg, SD?

  33. larry kurtz

    Mr. Kent’s last sentence sounded good first time through but reading it a second time provoked whether any American Indian tribes or even Japan gets to fly their flags.

  34. Bret—What?! Are likening me to ISIL?

    Well, I suppose that if we take dynamite to Stone Mountain, you might have grounds for that argument. However, ISIL destroys churches, mosques, and other culturally significant landmarks. Those are private buildings, right? Is Stone Mountain private or public? The park and its revisionist history museum are apparently maintained by private revenues.

    And you’ll notice that I’m not saying the Atlanta NAACP should recruit some terrorists to blow the Confederates off Stone Mountain. The Atlanta NAACP, if they want to make the case that sculptures of Davis, Lee, and Jackson are inappropriate, they should organize economic and political action. If the public has a say, they should seek legislative action. If the decision of the fate of the sculpture rests in private hands, they should appeal to reason and maybe try an economic boycott. ISIL would simply stage armed rebellion, blow the thing up, and behead anyone who opposed them.

    I’m not ISIL. Opposing the display of the Confederate flag by public officials on public property is not ISIL-style cultural cleansing.

  35. Jaidn Wager

    Look here is how it is. I live in Gettysburg SD and we are not racist, nor is the patch. We do not support racism, slavery or anything of a predjudiced nature. The patch shows our history. Gettysburg SD was founded by soldiers for both the Union and the Confederacy looking to settle down and start a new town and life. All of you saying how ANYONE supporting this is racist is completely and totally ignorant. I am white, have a Hispanic brother, Indian cousins, African American cousins, Chinese/Filipino friends, Irish friends, and I do not want to sell them into slavery and I do not make hurtful or racist comments to them because I am not racist. Would you scream and rage at a museum for having a Nazi helmet or a flag with a Swasticka? We are just a little town that is not going to ignore our history for a bunch of people who call us racist and want us to make them feel better. It’s not like we are yelling out racial slurs and having slave auctions. We are just showing the origins of our little town. Gettysburg South Dakota

  36. Errors in Jaidn’s statement:

    1. No matter where anyone lives, the Confederate flag represents treason and racism.
    2. No matter what race or ethnicity one’s relatives and friends are, the Confederate flag represents treason and racism.
    3. No matter what size one’s town or city is, the Confederate flag represents treason and racism.
    4. No matter what other treasonous or racist actions one may not be engaging in, the Confederate flag represents treason and racism.
    5. A policeman is not a museum.
    6. I do not want or need the residents of Gettysburg to make me feel better. I want them to stop flying the flag of racist traitors on their police uniforms and stop dressing up racism and Trumpishness as a proud and educational display of local history.
  37. Ch,

    Your statement “no matter” makes all you say a textbook example of the logic fallacy of historians fallacy.

    Just because you interpret the Confederate flag so does not mean the people who have both flags on their shirt badge did so at the time and do so now. Nor does being bullied to cast aspersions on what they are saying going to cause them to change.

  38. Troy, no one is being bullied. People are being told the truth: the Confederate flag symbolizes treason and racism. That is not a matter up for relativist leeway; that is historical fact.

    How is it fallacious for me to point out the irrelevant parts of Jaidn’s response? The location of the speaker, the race and ethnicity of the speaker’s friends and relatives, the size of Gettysburg, and the absence of other actions by the speaker have no bearing on the treasonous, racist nature of the Confederate flag.

  39. The flag symbolizes that for YOU but that doesn’t make your characterization a fact. The Gettysburg patch symbolizes something different. And you characterization, loaded with serious charges, is being a bully. And you didn’t listen to a single thing he said because of your bias which also makes you stubborn and disrespectful. But go ahead and cloak yourself in smug arrogant superiority.

  40. Roger Cornelius

    When I was growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation a World War II veteran had a Nazi flag he had captured during the war.
    He was always glad to pull it out of a box he had built to show it neighbors and friends that wanted to see it. I recall an eerie feeling I had whenever I saw the flag.
    Toward the end of his life one day he was outside standing by his burn barrel, I immediately recognized the box with the Nazi flag sitting on the ground and went over to see what he was doing.
    He said he was going to burn the flag because it represented hate. I told him there were 1,000’s more of the flag and he said we sometimes had to get rid of hate one flag at a time.
    And so it is with the Confederate Flag, to many blacks the flag has always represented hate, but many show their arrogance and disdain for Black’s by continuing to fly that symbol of hate.

  41. Darin Larson

    Troy,what the heck? Are we dealing with fact and truth or whatever truth someone establishes in their own mind? The fact is that the confederate flag is a historical symbol of racism and treason. It is a historical fact. It belongs in a museum as a part of history. It does not belong on a government police force ensignia. I’m sure the people of Gettysburg are fine people and generally not racists, but that doesn’t mean they should display a symbol of a racist society and a dark chapter in our country’s history.

    It is one thing for private individuals under the freedoms afforded by the 1st Amendment to display despicable symbols of racism, like skinheads who display the Nazi swastika, it is quite another for an apparatus of government to do so.

  42. Darin Larson

    Troy, if you were visiting Germany and saw the swastika on the uniforms of German police officers, wouldn’t you be concerned with the message this was sending?

  43. bearcreekbat

    Darin, perhaps Troy has decided to fully participate in the post-truth world where there is no objective reality, rather, we each get to define whatever reality that we think we need to justify our preconceived notions and prejudices.

    It’s official: Truth is dead. Facts are passe.

    . . .

    Oxford Dictionaries has selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year. . . .

    The dictionary defines “post-truth” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

    This new world is likely needed for anyone that needs to close their eyes to the harm that a Trump presidency and Republican policies might actually inflict on the lives of millions of people marginalized by Trump and most Republicans. A world based on historical reality would for most people lead to extreme feelings of guilt and regret for supporting a candidate like Trump. But a post-truth analysis provides a mind-numbing escape hatch.

  44. Mr. Bat, please remember that not all Republicans support Mr. Trump.

  45. Roger Cornelius


    Merriam – Webster’s word of the year is ‘surreal’, it is most fitting for what kind of a year Americans unexpectedly had.

  46. bearcreekbat

    It does sort of feel like the Twilight Zone these days Roger.

    And Grudz, I have no choice but to agree with your point since I, myself, am a registered Republican that did not vote for Trump. I used to appreciate Republican values and policy proposals, but not so much these days as I have a difficult time finding Republicans to vote for nationally and in SD. If folks like John Tsitrian would run for office I would support them in a minute.

  47. mike from iowa

    Drumpf’s white supremacist supporters are pissed because of Drumpf’s Happy Hanukkah card sent out. Wait until he sends out the Happy Kwanzaa cards.

    This creature named Drumpf just exudes bad vibes about all kinds of people, including less well off whites.

  48. Lakota Child is Remembering the Dakota 38, ordered hung by Abraham Lincoln on this day in 1862. Largest mass hanging in American history.

    We Americans can all do better by remembering/being aware of our history.

  49. Indeed Leo, December, the Moon of the Shedding Horns, was not kind to the Dakota nor the Lakota people’s. For today’s remembrance of the revenge slaughter in Mankato, was a familiar theme and much the same as the massacre in Wounded Knee on December 29th, 1890. The legality of a nation to allow the mass murder of its civilians is not something most folks want to remember old Honest Abe for. Benjamin Harrison was the leader in 1890 that bestowed Medals of Honor on the butchery to the killers. Benjamin Harrison was much like the feller that will take over in January, he lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote.

    You note being aware of our history and that is always the challenge. The south has gotten by with this racist flag by calling the civil war that of Northern Aggression. As long as there are those in Gettysburg, South Dakota that think that racist flag means nothing of significance, then we have failed historically to address the deaths of those 38 Dakota men and the mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands fighting to end slavery. I also note that Redfield, South Dakota was also founded on returning Civil War veterans from both sides and I note they do not have the treason flag in any of their public uniforms.

  50. My great fear, Jerry, is that the United States flag has already become a symbol of racism and bigotry (like the Confederate flag), both domestically and internationally, even while under an Obama administration (the drone program and the Middle East and African Wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, etc.) which is the great paradox. Yet the real culprit, GREED, is the answer, but as we know the real answer isn’t, and rarely communicated.

  51. troy: rush Limbaugh has led you astray with your regurgitation of ” smug arrogant superiority” of dems that he spouts daily for the last 30 years. home run BUDDY :(

  52. Roger Cornelius

    Dylann Roof is sitting on South Carolina’s death row for the murder of nine African Americans at their church in Charleston, South Carolina.
    Roof was a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizes that proudly displayed the hatred of the Nazi and Confederate flag together.
    The good people of South Carolina finally had the courage after all these years to remove the Confederate flag from its capitol where it has flown for generations.
    The political leaders and citizens finally recognized the hate that the Confederate flag represents, it is unfortunate the citizens of Gettysburg, SD don’t recognize that hate.

  53. Roger is right. If the genesis of this madness of slavery can cure this ill, then we can. Just like the US Government can start honoring its treaties with the Native Americans. I have hope.