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Pentagon draft policy would ban Confederate flag displays

WASHINGTON (AP) — A draft policy being circulated by Pentagon leaders would ban the display of the Confederate flag in Defense Department workplaces or public areas by service members and civilian personnel.

The policy, which has not yet been finalized or signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, comes as President Donald Trump earlier in the day criticized NASCAR’s decision to ban the flag at its races and venues. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft.

If approved, the draft Pentagon policy would bring the other military services in line with the Marine Corps, which banned Confederate displays on its bases in early June. Other military services had been poised to make similar decisions, but they were stalled when Esper said he wanted a review of the matter that would come up with a consistent department policy.

According to officials, the draft was sent out to service leaders for their input and response last week.

According to the draft, a ban would preserve “the morale of our personnel, good order and discipline within the military ranks and unit cohesion.” It notes that a “significant” population of service members and their families are minorities and “it is beyond doubt” that many “take grave offense at such a display.”

Trump, in a tweet Monday, said that NASCAR’s “Flag decision” and the uproar over a noose found hanging in the garage of the sport’s only full-time Black driver were driving the sports’ ratings down. And he suggested that Bubba Wallace should apologize after the sport rallied around him after the noose was found in his assigned stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Federal authorities ruled last month the noose had been hanging since October and was not a hate crime. NASCAR and the FBI have exclusively referred to the rope — which was used to pull the garage door closed -– as a noose.

The Pentagon draft says the ban applies to public displays of the flag on installations and facilities that are under department control, and would not apply to things like license plates or monuments not governed by the Pentagon.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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