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'Temporary removal': Virginia Flaggers plans new location for massive Confederate flag

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 10/30/2020 LESLY SALAZAR | ABC7 News

The Virginia Flaggers removed the I-95 Fredericksburg Memorial Battle Flag in Stafford County on Wednesday afternoon after the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said it would remove it on Friday if it were still there. Virginia Flaggers says it is already planning on placing the flag at a new location.

In fact, we already have SEVERAL locations that have been offered for relocation on Interstate 95, near the original site. We removed the flag today with the promise that it will be a temporary removal and that flag has been placed in safekeeping for the rededication and raising at its new location, to be announced in the coming months.

The group posted a lengthy message on its Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon saying they were unaware of the impending deadline prior to Wednesday. The group then "assembled a team of men" and lowered the flag during a short ceremony. 

The 20-foot by 30-foot flag was placed on the Stafford County private property in May of 2014. Virginia Flaggers says it is, "dedicated to the honor and memory of the citizen-soldiers who gave their lives on the field of honor."

The I-95 Northbound Rappahannock River Crossing project, which began on October 26, 2020, is the reason for the removal, according to VDOT. 

Caption: The Virginia Flaggers removed the I-95 Fredericksburg Memorial Battle Flag in Stafford County on Wednesday afternoon. (ABC7)

"VDOT compensated the private property owner for the acquired land, and VDOT is compensating Virginia Flaggers as a tenant for the installed structure, in accordance with Right-of-Way requirements," vice-chairman of the county's board of supervisors Mark Dudenhefer said.

RELATED | VDOT to remove I-95 Confederate flag this week, Stafford Board of Supervisors member says

"By claiming eminent domain, the state was able to seize the property, and subsequently force the removal of the flag, in blatant disregard of our First Amendment rights to freedom of expression on private property," Virginia Flaggers said on its Facebook post.

Although a new location for the I-95 Fredericksburg Memorial Battle Flag has not been announced, Virginia Flaggers says, "construction on our next flag site will begin this week, and we have several others in permitting stages."

 At our annual picnic last month, we made the pledge to raise a flag in every County/City in Virginia, starting with locations where monuments have been removed, and we plan to make good on that promise.

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