Auburn council to discuss flag issue

Katie Stallcup
Staff writer
Published: May 4, 2009

Pine Hill Cemetery is on the agenda for discussion at Tuesday’s Auburn City Council meeting after an ongoing dispute surrounding Confederate flags.

The discussion is scheduled for the 6:50 p.m. pre-meeting session in the council chambers at 141 N. Ross St.

The controversy was sparked April 23 when Councilman Arthur L. Dowdell pulled up small Confederate flags placed at the cemetery for Confederate Memorial Day, saying they were racist and offensive.

Dowdell has since returned the flags to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who placed the flags. He also gave them $20 for a flag broken in the process.

Dowdell said Monday the council had to discuss cemetery regulations before he presented a resolution. He said he has heard the meeting will draw a crowd, so he’s asking people “from all over” to attend the council meeting to support him.

“I intend to have a large group of people there,” he said. “And I’m asking the police department to do their jobs to make sure we don’t have any nuts or crazy people there try to overthrow the city council.”  Dowdell said he is prepared to defend what he did.

“I still stand by what I say about that flag is racial, it’s an offensive flag against us as black people,” he said. “I assure you, the black community will elect me again as their representative because I fought for many rights in the City of Auburn. I’m standing on what I believe.”

Auburn City Manager Charlie Duggan said the meeting would have extra security.

Beverly Webster, treasurer for the UDC Chapter 57, said the chapter appreciated Dowdell returning the flags “if it’s sincere.”

“We are just a group of ladies that are trying to commemorate and remember our ancestors,” Webster said.

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