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Georgia police officer files lawsuit after being fired for displaying Confederate flag

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A Confederate monument was erected in Alabama to honor unknown Civil War-era soldiers. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

A Georgia police officer who was fired for flying a Confederate flag on her own property is now suing the city, saying her First Amendment rights were violated.

Sgt. Silvia Cotriss of Roswell was a 20-year veteran of the police force before she was abruptly fired in July for flying the controversial flag, which the city deemed “unbecoming conduct.” She told reporters at the time that she had “no idea” that any of her neighbors were offended by the flag, saying, “If I knew it offended someone, my friends, my family, I wouldn’t do it.”

But the city terminated her anyway, citing a complaint made in July that indicated the Confederate flag was displayed at a house where a police car was parked.

In the lawsuit filed, Cotriss refuted that account, saying she was on medical leave at the time, and her squad car had been picked up by the department in May, therefore it could not have been parked in her driveway at the time the complaint was made. She added that by flying the flag, she was merely celebrating her Southern heritage and honoring her late husband.

Cotriss is suing for reinstatement of her position or 10 years of pay and benefits, among other damages.

WSB-TV reported that assisting Cotriss and her attorney, David Ates, is the Southern Legal Resource Center, an organization that has been associated with hate groups in the past. Its founder, Kirk Lyons, has been accused of being a “white supremacist.”

Lyons said he just wants to make sure Cotriss “gets a fair shake after being unfairly terminated.” He also denies any association with hate groups.

Roswell city officials refused to comment on the pending litigation.

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