Debate brewing over Stone Mountain Park's Confederate flag

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. —

Discussions are underway on whether or not to continue flying the Confederate flag at the base of the walk up trail at Stone Mountain Park.

In an email Bill Stephens of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association writes, "The flag in question is still flying in one location in the park, on the flag terrace on the walk up trail to the mountain top.  There are five flags on that terrace:  the current US Flag, three flags that flew over the Confederacy at one point or another and the so called battle flag that has been deemed by some to be offensive.  Many discussions are underway, but that's the current status.  All five are still flying.”

Stephen's group is charged by Georgia law to maintain the state-owned park.

"We are listening and all options have been discussed at some point," Stephens added.

“They are such an insult to the diversity of people that come to visit the mountain,” Shannon Byrne, who maintains a website calling for the flag to come down 

(http://www.iamthemountain.org/). She is among hundreds who have signed an online petition (http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/take-down-the-confederate-6 ) calling for the removal of the flag. Byrne says she is not opposed to it being placed in a museum instead. 

“When flags fly it is a symbol of honor, even victory. This flag is charged with violence, hate,  white supremacy,” Byrne told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.

Some other park-goers believe the flag is part of history at Stone Mountain, as indicated by the plaque at the base of the terrace, where the flags remain.

“I think it is appropriate to keep it here but probably not in other places because it is part of the history of this area,” Danni Mussatt said.

“I think this is more in the context of a historical... I think history of Georgia flag is appropriate,” said Paul Hanalian, who admits he is torn on whether the flag should stay up.

“It offends me on many levels. The first being what it stood for, and what the KKK would wave when they hung my ancestors on trees,” another hiker told Channel 2’s Stockman.

Under Georgia Law, no one is allowed to touch the Confederate figures that are carved into the side of Stone Mountain.