By Guy Page
The Great Barre City BLM Flag War isn’t over.
A tempetuous municipal argument over which flags should fly in Barre’s City Hall Park spilled over into the Vermont Legislature last April when Barre Democratic Reps. Peter Anthony and Tommy Walz introduced H444 would change the City Charter to allow the city to “enumerate the flags that the City may fly.”
A year and one politically-incorrect Senate amendment later, the war remains unresolved. But it might end this week.
H444 was introduced by the city’s two Democratic lawmakers after a hellacious controversy among city councilors about flying the Black Lives Matter flag. Progressive elements on the city council insisted on flying the BLM flag alongside the U.S. and state flag. Non-Progressives fought back. They managed to pass a ‘flag of the month’ program in which the BLM banner flew the first month but others – including U.S. military service flags – flew during other months.
H444 passed the House quickly and unchanged.
But then, the Senate.
On March 8 of this year, the Senate Government Operations Committee voted 6-0 to amend the bill, including this significant change: “The City of Barre shall fly only the City, State, United States, and POW/MIA flags.” The committee decision was reported on the Senate floor by Washington County Sen. Anthony Pollina (P).
In other words, no BLM flag.
Two weeks later the Senate passed H444 with its changes intact. On April 1, Rep. Anthony asked the House to postpone any House decision until this Wednesday, April 6. Anthony and others reportedly will prepare a further proposal of amendment. Will their amendment of the Senate amendment re-insert the city’s prerogative to fly any flag it wants – including BLM’s? Stay tuned.
The political fallout of sponsoring H444, if any, won’t fall on Walz. He’s not running for re-election. However, Rep. Anthony and whoever else runs in the two-seat House district will no doubt be asked by voters where they fall on flying the BLM flag in Barre’s picturesque City Hall Park.