FBI to assist in rebel flag probe in Hartselle

HARTSELLE, Ala. (AP) - The FBI has agreed to assist Hartselle police with an investigation into a Confederate battle flag found tied to a pole in front of a black church.

Mount Pleasant CME Church member Glenda McGregor spotted the Confederate flag at about 6 a.m. Monday while heading to work.

Police Chief Ron Puckett said his department is treating the incident as a crime.

A message left for Puckett was not immediately returned Wednesday.

A police officer removed the flag and is holding it as evidence.

Church members want authorities to treat the incident as a hate crime. McGregor's son, Victor McGregor, thinks the incident is linked to the Martin Luther Jr. holiday and Barack Obama's inauguration as the first black president.

He said the flag was placed to instill fear in the black community.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)