The discovery of a Confederate flag flying from the same hooks as the American flag at the town's landfill Monday morning triggered memories of other incidents locally, including a cross burning in 1998 that occurred during a townwide dialogue on race relations.
General Manager Scott Shanley said a public works employee noticed the Confederate flag when he arrived at the landfill, and it was immediately removed. Shanley said staff in his office are preparing a report that will be sent to the police department.
Shanley was told that the flag was raised during the weekend. It is not known whether the placement of the flag was a prank or a malicious act, he said.
This is not the first time an incident of this nature has occurred in that area of town.
In July of 1998, a 10-foot-tall wooden cross was found burning on Olcott Street, which is near the entrance to the landfill.
A few days later, a fire in the shape of a cross was burned in a patch of grass near the Spencer Street entrance to I-384.
Beth Stafford, executive director of the Manchester Area Conference of Churches, said Monday that she was concerned about the flag incident.
Stafford said that if town police determine that the incident was racially motivated, she would seek to raise public awareness of the problem.
Stafford was involved in a racial study circle that was active in the late 1990s when she first got involved in the church conference. She said the experience was eye-opening and rewarding.
Many discussion groups formed in town in 1998, prior to the cross burning, to explore racial tensions that had become manifest. The members of her group, who named themselves Voice of Equality, remain in contact.
She believes that these discussion groups can improve race relations and racial attitudes.
The church conference initially ran the groups, but the town later took control of them, she said.