Roswell Police Sgt. Silvia Cotriss. Cotriss was fired on July 14, 2016 for flying a Confederate flag in her front yard. She is appealing the termination.

Roswell cop fired for Confederate flag says she didn’t know it offended

The Confederate battle flag has long been a divisive emblem.

But a Roswell police sergeant says she didn’t know that.

And because she didn’t know that and flew the flag in her front yard for more than a year, she says, she was fired. Silvia Cotriss, a 20-year veteran of the department told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that she is appealing her July 14 firing by the Roswell Police Department. She was terminated after a complaint from a passerby who told the Roswell police chief that he’d seen the battle flag flying in her yard and her marked police vehicle parked in the driveway.

Cotriss doesn’t deny she had the flag in her yard, but disputes the accusation that her city issued vehicle was in the driveway.

“If I knew it offended someone, my friends, my family, I wouldn’t do it,” Cotriss told the AJC. “We take an oath to help and protect people, so we can’t have a private life that’s really bad.”

Cotriss was fired for conduct unbecoming an officer. The Roswell police chief has declined to comment on the case after the AJC obtained the investigation report.

How is it that the officer didn’t know about the flag’s long, contentious history, an emblem she said represents “Southern heritage?” And how did she decide to fly the flag in her yard in the first place? Even a prominent Atlanta First Amendment attorney has questions about the case and wonders if the episode might be a case of “over reach,” given the tense racial climate in the country. Tension exacerbated by several high profile police shootings.

To read the full story of how Cotriss got the flag and what lies ahead for her, visit myajc.com.

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