Metro Detroit art gallery to burn Confederate flag at Memorial Day event

Posted at 11:16 PM, May 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 18:16:37-04

A metro Detroit art gallery will host a performance artist who plans to burn the Confederate flag and bury the ashes on Memorial Day.

Detroit native John Sims, who now lives in Florida, will burn the banner at the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, a small gallery in midtown. Sims said the ceremony is aimed at recognizing the impact Confederate symbols are having on the political landscape.

 "It's important to stay on top of these things and send a clear message about the kind of society that we really want to have," Sims said.

Sims has burned the rebel banner, a symbol of heritage for some and hate for others, in various southern cities for over a decade.

"If you can't deal with the things you can see, how do you deal with the things that you can't see?," Sims said.

A ceremony in New Orleans led to the removal of  confederate monuments in New Orleans this year. Another ceremony in South Carolina happened just days before Dyaln Roof entered a historically black church in Charleston in 2015 and killed the pastor and several members during a Bible study.

South Carolina later removed the confederate symbol from the state flag.

The Detroit ceremony is being held to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots but is also aimed at raising political awareness in a city that saw a significant drop in black voter turnout during the 2016 Presidential election.

"Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, if those cities would have turned out, it'd be a whole different dialog right now," said gallery owner Dr. George N'Nmadi.