Officials in a small South Dakota town have decided not to wait for formality and have removed from public view the police insignia that includes the Confederate flag, according to a relative of George Floyd who lives there and raised objections over the logo.
Selwyn Jones said Wednesday that the emblem is gone from the Gettysburg police vehicle, the station and all other visible locations in the town of roughly 1,200 that is named for the battlefield where Union forces turned the tide against the South’s defense of slavery in the Civil War.
“Yes, they are gone,” said Jones, who returned late Monday from Minneapolis, where he had sat in the hearing for the four fired Minneapolis police officers charged in Floyd’s May 25 death. “They’re off. I see them every day.”
The fate of the insignia with the flag was to be up for debate Monday before the City Council. On Tuesday, Mayor William Wuttke told the Star Tribune that the Police Department was “working on something different,” but added that he felt his community was being pressured by liberals and the news media.
The mayor of the nearly all white town and Police Chief David Mogard did not make themselves available Wednesday to say whether the emblem would be addressed at the council next week, given it’s now out of view.
Jones was pleased with the unexpected development but cautious about what could happen next.
“It’s just not needed in this world,” he said. “We shall see.”
Mogard said at a special council session called on June 12 that a redesign was needed to the patch he has worn on his uniform since took over the department in 2018.
After the meeting that night, Mogard started the transition process on his own, albeit in a small way. Television reporter Ryan Martin, on assignment for DakotaNewsNow.com, said Mogard told him outside the police station he was going to remove the emblem from the station’s door.
Martin said he was working on his laptop in preparation for a live report, and “when I looked up, it was off the door.”
Jones was joined in his objection to the insignia, which has represented police since 2009, by a University of South Dakota political science student whose online petition collected several thousand signatures and by a major national civil rights group.
“We welcome this apparent decision to remove a symbol of racism, white supremacy and slavery from the department’s logo, vehicles and facilities,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “All such symbols honoring the traitors and racists of the Confederacy should be eliminated nationwide.”