Attorney: Nothing constitutionally can stop Confederate memorial in Orange
By Jose D. Enriquez III
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

As applause rang through the Orange City Council chambers Tuesday, members voted unanimously to oppose construction of a Confederate veterans memorial at Interstate 10 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, even though they previously approved building permits in fear of a free speech lawsuit.

More than 100 people gathered inside and outside the chambers to voice their continued distaste for the memorial, especially its prominent display of the Confederate battle flag within sight of the interstate.

Marshall Davis, public information officer for the Sons of Confederate Veterans-Texas Division, said his group is outraged that Orange citizens are not supporting the memorial.

"The Confederate memorial plaza in Orange will be completed," he said. "And it will be a war memorial to American war veterans who served their country and fought nobly and bravely."

Davis said members of their organization offered to erect an MLK memorial in the plaza, but the NAACP’s Orange Branch rejected that overture.

"We find that disappointing, because Dr. King said that he hoped one day ‘the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.’

Beaumont attorney and Orange native Marcus Wilkerson said, ""To build a memorial to the very system of oppression Dr. King spent his life in opposition to on a street is an affront and assault on African-Americans and is irresponsible," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said the community should be aware that "if the municipality found necessary use for the property, the city could use eminent domain to acquire that piece of land" for an easement for pipelines, railways, roads or other project that benefits the public.

Otherwise, nothing constitutionally can be done to stop construction now, regardless of the feelings it stirs, he said.

© 2013 Hearst Communications Inc.

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