Auburn City Council Wants Public Apology In Flag Controversy

By Ashley Ball
Published: May 5, 2009

City Councilman Arthur Dowdell says he removed Confederate flags from graves at Pine Hill Cemetery because he was offended by them. His actions brought heated reaction from City Officials to ordinary citizens, and nd the Ku Klux Klan.

In the first City Council meeting since the uproar, the City has a message for Dowdell.

The City Council is urging Dowdell to apologize for his actions.  The council passed a resolution on the issue Tuesday night.

Part of the resolution read, “The City Council condemns the actions taken by Councilman Dowdell and urges him to make a public apology to the citizens of Auburn and to pledge to that he will henceforth respect the private property and free speech of all citizens.”

It started a week and a half ago when Dowdell removed the flags from the graves. The United Daughters of the Confederacy had placed the flags on the graves to honor Confederate Memorial Day.

Auburn Mayor Bill Ham said this is not an issue of race or the confederate flag but an issue of private property. Ham says, “I learned a long time ago you don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you and I think that’s really what were dealing with here.”

Dowdell told News 3 before the Tuesday night meeting he has no regrets, and he doesn’t plan on bending to public pressure for his resignation, “I was elected by the people and the people are the only ones that have the right to decide whether I am in office or not, and I have not done anything that would cause me to disband my office and I will not disband my office.”

In fact, Dowdell says he is planning on running for reelection in 2010.

Mayor Ham says the entire issue has been an embarrassment to the City of Auburn and the Mayor says he hopes this will be the last time the Council has to deal with the issue publically.

Ham also said he will not support any City legislation limiting citizen’s rights to place items on their loved ones graves.

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