A judge warned an upstate New York mother that she is at risk of losing custody of her multiracial daughter if she does not remove a rock with a Confederate flag painted on it from her home’s driveway.
On Thursday, May 6, appellate justices in Albany ruled that parents, identified only as Christie BB and Isaiah CC, would retain joint custody of their young daughter, but with terms attached. During a fact-finding hearing, the mother testified that “she had a rock with a Confederate flag painted on it at her home” which Justice Stanley Pritzker took issue with and called out in the decision which he authored, warning that if the rock is not removed by June 1, Family Court will consider “a change in circumstances” for the child, who turns 7 this year.
According to Pritzker, “neither Tompkins County Judge Joseph Cassidy, who presided over the matter in 2018, nor the child’s law guardian” addressed the Confederate imagery as an issue previously.
“Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child’s best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed-race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance,” wrote Justice Pritzker.
“Further, and viewed pragmatically, the presence of the Confederate flag is a symbol inflaming the already strained relationship between the parties,” he continued. “As such, while recognizing that the First Amendment protects the mother’s right to display the flag if it is not removed by June 1, 2021, its continued presence shall constitute a change in circumstances and Family Court shall factor this into any future best interests analysis.”
The child’s law guardian, attorney Jason Leifer, feels the court’s response “is appropriate,” but noted that because the mother only recently moved into the residence, he wasn’t totally confident that she placed the rock on the property.