AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Six Flags Over Texas, faced with criticism over its longstanding display of a Confederate flag at its main amusement park, has decided to remove the item and display U.S. flags instead, local newspaper reports said on Friday.
A Confederate flag at the park located between Dallas and Fort Worth has been on display since it opened in 1961. The theme park had six sections, each under a flag representing the nations that had sovereignty over the territory or the state of Texas. They included the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America.
Symbols of the Confederacy have come into fresh focus since last weekend after white nationalists, angered at the planned removal of a statute honouring Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a public park in Charlottesville, Virginia, engaged in violent protests in which a counter-protester was killed.
“We always choose to focus on celebrating the things that unite us versus those that divide us,” Six Flags Entertainment Corp spokeswoman Sharon Parker was quoted as saying in a statement that appeared in the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“As such, we have changed the flag displays in our park to feature American flags,” she said. Parker did not reply to requests to comment.
Opponents of monuments to the Confederacy, which fought in the U.S. Civil War for the preservation of slavery, view them as a festering symbol of racism. Supporters say they honour American history, and some of the monuments have become rallying points for white nationalists.
But the display of the six flags stirs almost no controversy in Texas, where they are seen by both the left and right as a representation of history.
In almost all prominent displays, the well-known Confederate battle flag with the blue X adorned with stars on a red field is not flown. Instead, a lesser-known Confederate flag typically flies with the other five.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz, editing by G Crosse