The Southern Legal Resource Center
For Immediate Release Tuesday, April 28, 2009
SLRC: City should demand resignation of councilman who took Confederate flags
BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC – The Southern Legal Resource Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for civil rights in cases involving Southern heritage and culture, today called upon the city of Auburn, AL, to oust a city councilman who removed several small Confederate flags from gravesites at a local cemetery.
Councilman Arthur L. Dowdell snatched the flags from the graves of several Confederate soldiers in Pine Hill Cemetery last week. The flags had been placed by the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of Confederate Memorial Day, an Alabama state holiday.
Dowdell called the flags reminders of racism and, according to one news source, said, “If I had my way I would have broke them all up and stomped on them and burned them.”
In a letter to Auburn Mayor Bill Ham, Jr., SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie said that the ill-will caused by Dowdell’s actions “has been further exacerbated by [his] arrogant and defiant reaction” to those who have criticized his behavior. “Mr Dowdell has a right to his opinion. He does not have the right to express that opinion through trespass, theft and destruction of property,” McCredie said. He added that “justice and ordinary decency would be served” by the City’s demanding Dowdell’s resignation.
The SLRC, founded in 1995, has been described as “the Southern cultural equivalent of the ACLU.” It is presently involved in a lawsuit against the town of Ringgold, Georgia, which removed a Confederate battle flag from a memorial display at historic Ringgold Depot and replaced it with a different flag.
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