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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Tyrone Brooks

Aired June 2, 2003 - 20:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: This decision in the South Carolina case follows a heavily fight over the Confederate battle emblem in Georgia. Georgia state representative Tyrone Brooks helped defeat an effort to return the battle emblem to the Georgia state flag. He joins us from the CNN Center in Atlanta. Mr. Brooks, thank you very much for being with us. Explain, if you will, why the Confederate flag is so upsetting to the people it does?
TYRONE BROOKS, GEORGIA STATE HOUSE: Well, obviously the Confederate battle flag is an international symbol of hate. It is the symbol of the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazis, the skinheads. Groups around the world fly the Confederate battle flag as an oppressive symbol, a symbol that really stands for slavery, a symbol that flew over lynchings, a symbol that really flew whenever there was a church burning, when the homes of Martin Luther King Jr., F. David Abernathy and Joseph Larry (ph) were bombed, that's where you saw the Confederate battle flag. So it's a symbol of hate.

COOPER: Let me jump in here, though. Let me just jump in here. Argue the alternative side and just put it to you: There are those who say, I believe Matthew Dixon among them, who would say, look, it is a symbol of Southern heritage. Though there may be objectionable groups which fly this flag, just as there are objectionable groups that fly the American flag, that does not necessarily make the symbol itself a symbol to object to. Your response?

BROOKS: Well, I'm sure he understands that the Nazi swastika is the symbol of European heritage, too. But you won't find it flying anywhere in South Carolina or Georgia or anywhere in America. It is as offensive to African-Americans to fly the Confederate battle flag as it is to fly the Nazi swastika.

So I hope that the court's decision will be upheld, because it's a proper decision. He has a right to fly the flag at home, on his pickup truck, in his yard, but he doesn't have the right to bring that flag into a private employer's domain. I don't have the right to bring a flag into CNN tonight. You could tell me not to bring the Old Glory flag in here for that matter. But the court was right in that decision.

COOPER: Do you think -- I mean, what he will argue is, look, it was on my toolbox, it was tucked away, wasn't all that prominently displayed. Does that not matter?

BROOKS: It is on the company's property. It is the company's toolbox, it's not his toolbox. And the company has a right to make a decision as to what will be displayed on its private property. The court got it right, and I hope the court's decision will be upheld. I'm sure it will go to the Supreme Court, and I predict that the Supreme Court will uphold the lower court's decision. This is a just decision. It does not infringe upon his personal, individual, constitutional rights. He has a right to take that flag and fly it all over his personal property. But he does not have the right to bring that flag into the domain of a private employer.

COOPER: All right, Tyrone Brooks, appreciate you joining us tonight. Thanks for your perspective.

BROOKS: Thank you.

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