Confederate Flag Controversy in Sussex County Council

GEORGETOWN, Del. – A Sussex County Councilman is speaking out, demanding that thousands of dollars in taxpayer money be returned to the county after he learned that it went to fund a local museum that flies the confederate flag.

Sussex County Councilman Mark Schaeffer is calling out his colleague, Councilman John Rieley after learning that $2,000 in taxpayer money was used to pay for an air-conditioning unit to be installed in a new exhibit at the Marvel Museum which flies a confederate flag on their grounds.

“It’s a statement that you’re a racist, and you support racism,” Councilman Schaeffer said. “The flag is being displayed in a celebratory fashion of the confederacy and that’s unacceptable, improper, and racist.”

The funding in question came from Councilman Rieley’s councilmatic funds, which each councilmember is granted and has the discretion to spend how they see fit, but still requires approval from full council. That approval was granted unanimously, including a yes vote from Councilman Schaffer.

Councilman Schaeffer says when he voted to approve the funding he didn’t know about the flag, but now that he does, he wants the money back.

“I will be making a motion on Tuesday to ask them to return the taxpayers money,” Councilman Schaeffer stated. “If they wanna display it in a historical perspective, that’s a different issue.”

Councilman Rieley defended his decision to grant the funding in an interview with 47 ABC’s Rob Petree.

“It was a very narrow request, a very narrow grant, it had nothing to do with any other thing that is associated with the museum, it had to do with that particular display and that only,” Councilman Rieley explained. He went on to question whether or not his colleague really wasn’t aware of the controversy surrounding the museum. “If he does not know that there has been controversy about this flag in the past, then I really find that hard to believe if you’ve never driven past the Marvel Museum on the way to or from the inspection lane at the State DelDOT facility.”

While acknowledging why he granted the funding, Councilman Rieley did go on to say there is likely a better place for the flag to be displayed moving forward.

“There’s all sorts of takes on this,” Councilman Rieley said. “I personally think the flag could probably be displayed in a more culturally sensitive way so that it doesn’t detract from the mission of the museum.”

A committee has been formed in the Georgetown Historical Society, who runs the Marvel Museum, to come up with a way to resolve the issue of the confederate flag once and for all. This came after a controversial motion was passed in Georgetown Town Council last month to approve over $24,000 in funding to pay for several repairs to the museum.

Repeated requests to reach leadership with the Georgetown Historical Society for comment have been unsuccessful.

The Delaware Grays’ Sons of Confederate Veterans installed the monument on the grounds of the museum in 2007.

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