By Guy Page
The Barre City Council Tuesday night resolved heated debate over flying the Black Lives Matter flag in City Hall Park by narrowly deciding to let it fly next month, and then take it down and fly 22 other flags, one per month, through October 2022 — including the “Back the Blue” banner.
A pro-BLM flag supporter on the Council condemned the “hatred” of the pro-police flag, and said there are people in Barre who “cannot see past their hatred.”
The Council decided to display 23 different flags in City Hall Park over the next two years — starting with BLM next month, and ending with the flag of the U.S. Navy. The park, across from City Hall, also features the famous “Youth Triumphant” statue, aka the Naked Soldier with a Sword.
The Council was split 3-3 until Mayor Lucas Herring cast the tie-breaker for the 23-flag solution, upsetting BLM supporters who said it weakened an original, BLM-flag-only proposal. Councilor Teddy Waszazak expressed their disappointment on a Facebook post:
“Due to manipulation of the agenda and one Councilor’s reactionary views, a Thin Blue Line flag will fly in January (not without STRONG dissent from myself and Councilors Reil and Hemmerick), and flags were scheduled out through 2022. I am extremely disappointed in the Mayor and the 3 other Councilors who voted for this.
“However, I am jubilant that the BLM flag will fly in Barre, one way or another. Let me be perfectly clear; I stand with Black Lives Matter and the movement for Black Lives. I condemn the symbol of hatred that is the Thin Blue Line flag, and I am sorry that I could not deliver a stronger result. Black Lives Matter in Barre, even if there are people here who cannot see past the hatred.”
Councilor John Steinman, who voted for the all-flags plan, struck a note of unity and reconciliation.
“Last night, on a split decision, the City Council reaffirmed its nonpartisan roots,” City Councilor John Steinman said in a Facebook statement. “After hearing testimony from diametrically opposed viewpoints, it refused to take sides on a national debate. Instead, in the spirit of fair play, the council decided to compromise and fly flags representing differing views.”
“Compromise is essential to the proper governance of our fair city and while it is abundantly clear that certain members of the council were unwilling to compromise, a compromise was enacted that represents the diverse views of our community. Now that all views are represented maybe we can let the divisiveness end and our community heal.”
Barre flag-flying schedule posted
Here’s the complete list of proposed flags, subject to change, as provided by an involved Barre resident:
Black Lives Matter, December 2020
Thin Blue Line, January 2021
Green Mountain Boys flag, February 2021
Ireland, March 2021
Earth Day, April 2021
Firefighter Support, May 2021
United States Army, June 2021
Betsy Ross, July 2021
Woman’s Suffrage, 19th Amendment, August 2021
LGBT Rainbow, September 2021
Abenaki, October 2021
United States Marine Corps, November 2021
Human Rights Equality, December 2021
Canada, January 2022
Union Jack, February 2022
Italy, March 2022
Autism Awareness, April 2022
Star of David (Jewish American Heritage Month), May 2022
Juneteenth, June 2022
France, July 2022
United States Coast Guard, August 2022
AFLCIO, September 2022
United States Navy, October 2022
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.