Metro Detroit art gallery burns Confederate flag at Memorial Day event

Posted at 10:17 PM, May 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 23:19:43-04

A metro Detroit art gallery hosted a performance artist who burned the Confederate flag and buried the ashes.

The N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, a small gallery in midtown, hosted the event on Memorial Day. It was held in part to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Riots.

Detroit native John Sims, who now lives in Florida, burned the banner at the event. Ahead of the event, Sims told 7 Action News the ceremony was 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 was 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.

Organizers and attendees at the symbolic funeral service also viewed it as a reminder that hatred and discrimination have no place in our society.