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10 Arrested in Effort to Lower Stars and Bars

February 02, 1988|Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Law officers arrested Alabama NAACP President Thomas Reed and 10 other black leaders today when they tried to climb a fence around the Capitol to take down the Confederate battle flag flying over the dome.

Reed, a state representative from Tuskegee, led a group of several dozen blacks to a driveway gate where Reed talked to state troopers for almost 20 minutes before attempting to climb the 8-foot fence.

'I consider myself not violating the law of this state," Reed said.

After officers grabbed Reed by the collar and pulled him down from the fence, other members of his group, among them national NAACP board member Emmett Burns, tried to climb over but were also restrained.

"We are under arrest," state Rep. John Rogers of Birmingham said as he entered the bus. The charges were not immediately known.

Earlier, as crowds had gathered for the march sponsored by the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, local and state law enforcement officers set up barricades and confiscated an ax handle.

Reed contends that the flag represents racism and oppression and said that if it was not taken down voluntarily he planned to "enter the Capitol grounds and climb to the top of the state Capitol dome and remove the Confederate battle flag."

He said today that the banner is resented by blacks and "better-thinking white people."

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