HARRISBURG - A Confederate flag that had been hanging inside the Capitol as part of a historical exhibit was taken down Wednesday after objections from a state representative from Philadelphia, officials said.
Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D., Phila.) initially took the flag down herself late Tuesday and turned it in to House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny), who gave it to Capitol police, legislative officials said.
Brown, who chairs the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, told reporters her problem with the flag's display was that the placard under it did not "properly say that this was a symbol of hatred, murder, and oppression."
"Displaying the flag without the proper context misses the opportunity to teach the true history," she said.
The flag was returned to the display Wednesday morning. Brown was threatened with arrest if she again attempted to remove it, the officials said.
But it didn't hang there for long.
Gov. Wolf learned about its inclusion in the exhibit late Wednesday morning and ordered it removed. So it was taken down for a second time. Two other flags used by the Confederacy were also removed from the exhibit, according to the Department of General Services.
"The governor believes the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and hatred," said spokesman Jeff Sheridan, "and does not believe it should be on display in a state building or that it should be celebrated in any way."
The display had been organized by the Hanover Area Historical Society, according to a placard outside the area in the Capitol where several dozen flags hang. The exhibit, near a heavily traveled area inside the Capitol, is to run through July.
Debra Markle, a historical society board member, said the flags removed were part of a collection of flags sewn by Pennsylvania resident Wilfred Clair Clausen, who died in 1972.
According to the society's website, Clausen began making the flags in the 1960s as a response to the flag-burnings that were then happening as protests.
The collection includes 78 handmade reproductions of historical flags that trace back to important periods and events in American history, moving through the colonial period, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and both World Wars.
In an interview, Markle said it was unacceptable that a state representative believed she could take something that did not belong to her.
"She didn't just remove it - she stole it from the display," said Markle. "She had no authority and no right to put her hands on anything that did not belong to her."
Markle said some of the Clausen flags were displayed in both the Pennsylvania Capitol and the U.S. Capitol in 1966 for the 50th anniversary of Flag Day, and are being displayed again this year in the state Capitol for the 100th anniversary. The flags, she said, were chosen and displayed in chronological order to reflect the expansion of the United States.
Of the Confederate flags, she said, "It's history. We are a historical society. Did we mean anything by it? Of course not."
It was not immediately clear whether the remaining flags in the display will be allowed to hang. Two informational placards about the display were also removed around lunchtime.
Brown, who was elected in 2008, represents sections of West Philadelphia. She is awaiting trial on charges that she accepted money and gifts from an undercover operative as part of a long-running sting investigation by the state Attorney General's Office.
Karen Langley of the Harrisburg bureau contributed to this article.