American flag pictures to be displayed on Atlanta building cause controversy

Updated:

Photos of young people posing with the American flag are set to be on display on an empty Atlanta school building, but some feel uneasy about the images.
ATLANTA —

Large pictures set to be displayed on an empty Atlanta school building are generating controversy.

The building has been a school and an administrative building, and by the end of the month, it is scheduled to be an art venue. But some Atlanta City Council members refused to vote Tuesday for the zoning change that would allow the controversial pictures to go up.

The pictures show people posing with the American flag. Some are draped in it; Others are standing near it, and one man is waving it.

City councilman Michael Julian Bond said the photos by artist Sheila Pree Bright are displayed at the Atlanta airport and the High Museum, but needed a sign zoning variance to drape the walls of the Atlanta Public Schools’ David T. Howard building.

Bond said the American flag is a symbol of freedom.

“And the operative word is free. We are free to do it,” Bond told Channel 2’s Jeff Dore.

The artist asked young adults to discuss the flag, write about it, and then propose ways of posing with it.

Interpretation is up to the viewers, and some councilmembers were uneasy with city government putting a stamp of approval on displaying the flag this way.

“I believe there's one where a gentleman literally has a flag wrapped around him, where he's draped in the American flag, and of course that's an old expression,” Bond said.

Dore asked people at Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth house what they thought of the images.

“I think it's awesome.  I think if you believe in it then you should wear it,” Valeri Benson said.

On the other side, Stephan Early said, “The first young man who's wrapped in the flag, unfortunately, it reminds me of what Mark Twain said about scoundrels wrapping themselves in the flag.”

Bond said the pictures should go up by the end of the month.