Orange attorney: ‘Repugnant’ Confederate monument can’t be blocked

By Jose Enriquez and Sarah Moore
Sunday, February 17, 2013

Plans to erect a Confederate monument near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange, complete with fluttering battle flag visible from Interstate 10, have provoked bitter disapproval from residents, who have complained of its insensitivity even as its sponsors insist they don’t want to stir the pot.

Promoters of the monument, which will honor Confederate veterans, say it will attract people to the region. Those who oppose it fear people will be repulsed by it and drive on.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans-Texas Division, which intends to begin construction when weather permits, says the monuments preserve the true history of the South for future generations.

"The more education about the South and what they were fighting for, the more compassion people will have for the Confederates and what they did," said Marshall Davis, Sons of Confederate Veterans-Texas Division public relations officer.

At a heated session of the Orange City Council this week, a recording of which The Enterprise viewed, several residents spoke emotionally against the proposed memorial. No one spoke for it.

After a number of residents criticized council members for allowing the monument to move forward, city manager Shawn Oubre asked city attorney John Cash "Jack" Smith to address the legal aspects of the issue.

Smith did not sugarcoat his feelings about the project.

"It is totally repugnant and against everything we stand for," he said before explaining the city could be sued if the council tried to block it.

"The problem is, it’s a freedom of expression, freedom of speech issue," Smith said.

© 2013 Hearst Communications Inc.

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