The Marine Corps is officially barring symbols depicting the Confederate battle flag from public spaces on Marine Corps installations — a move that comes following George Floyd’s death in police custody last month.
“The Confederate battle flag has all too often been co-opted by violent extremist and racist groups whose divisive beliefs have no place in our Corps,” the Marine Corps said in a social media post Friday.
“This presents a threat to our core values, unit cohesion, security, and good order and discipline,” the post continued. “This must be addressed.”
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) June 6, 2020
As a result, a new MARADMIN message instructs Marine Corps commanders across the entire service to “identify and remove” displays of the Confederate battle flag on Marine bases. This applies to bumper stickers, clothing, mugs, posters, flags and other items depicting the Confederate battle flag in public and work spaces on Marine Corps installations.
Exceptions include works of art or historical displays where the flag is depicted but is not the “main focus of the work,” state flags and license plates that include images of the Confederate flag, and Confederate soldiers grave sites.
Inspection sites include all public spaces and work places such as office buildings, open-bay barracks and shipboard berthing, commissaries, all Marine Corps schoolhouses, and front yards of military housing.
However, commanders will not inspect inside assigned individual barracks rooms or living quarters; assigned desk drawers, cabinets and lockers; backpacks; private automobiles; or military housing.
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This is the latest step Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger has taken to eliminate Confederate flag symbols from Marine Corps installations, and comes amid nation-wide protests following the death of Floyd, a black man prosecutors say was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer.
In February, Berger sent a letter to the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Gary Thomas about wanting to ban all “Confederate-related paraphernalia” from Marine bases.
He also published a letter in April for the June 2020 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette on the topic, asserting the Confederate battle flag “has the power to inflame feelings of division” and that’s part of why he wanted to remove Confederate symbols from Marine Corps public displays.
“I cannot have that division inside our Corps,” Berger wrote in the letter.
“We must remove those symbols that have the effect of division and not mere disagreement,” Berger wrote.
But erasing these symbols isn’t’ enough. In response to Floyd’s death, Berger released a statement on Wednesday urging Marine Corps commanders and leaders to engage in conversations about racial discrimination and prejudice with their Marines and sailors.
“Current events are a stark reminder that it is not enough for us to remove symbols that cause division — rather, we also must strive to eliminate division itself,” Berger said.
“By listening, we learn, by learning, we change,” Berger said. “The path to a more just and equal Marine Corps begins with these conversations.”