ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A city in Georgia has voted to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund a veterans parade following a lawsuit by a group of Confederate descendants who were barred from flying the Confederate flag during the event.
The Alpharetta City Council unanimously voted to stop sponsoring the Old Soldiers Day parade, which it has co-hosted to honor war veterans for almost 70 years. In its early years, the parade was a tribute to local Civil War veterans.
"It’s just time for us to get out of this parade business," Mayor Jim Gilvin said at the Monday meeting.
The Atlanta suburb spent $20,000 on the August 2019 parade, city spokesman James Drinkard said. A local veterans group also has raised money to put on the event but said it can't manage it without city support.
Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesman Martin O’Toole told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the city canceled the parade over political correctness and was “dishonoring all American veterans" by doing so.
The group had flown the Confederate flag in the parade until the city objected beginning around 2017, the Roswell Mills Camp 1547 Sons of Confederate Veterans said. They were told they could remain in the parade as long as they didn’t fly the flag. They refused, saying no one would recognize them without it, the newspaper reported.
The group sued days before the 2019 parade, arguing for a First Amendment right to show the flags. A judge ruled Monday the case will continue and a trial could begin next summer.