Auburn city leaders aren't condoning councilman's actions - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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Auburn city leaders aren't condoning councilman's actions

April 24, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - An Auburn City Councilman is receiving some resistance from fellow leaders for doing what he thought was right. The question at hand - should confederate flags be allowed in an Auburn cemetary? Auburn City Council member Arthur Dowdell says he removed flags from Pine Hill Cemetary on Thursday, because he viewed them as offensive.

The United Daughters put the flags up in honor of Confederate Memorial Day, which is Sunday. Dowdell says he was picking his daughter up from a nearby school when some parents informed him about the flags. He then drove to the cemetary and starting pulling up the flags as volunteers were putting them up.

Other Auburn city officials say they are not condoning Dowdell's actions. "These were actions taken by a private citizen and not condoned, condoned at all by the city, in fact the city knew nothing about it," said Jim Buston, Assitant City Manager.

Auburn's Assistant City Manager says Councilman Dowdell pulled up at least three flags. City officials say The United Daughters of the Confederacy have informed them that they will be replacing the flags that were taken. Auburn Mayor Bill Ham released this statement late Friday afternoon:

Mayor Bill Ham, Jr. Releases Statement on Pine Hill Cemetery Incident

"The recent incident regarding Confederate flags placed on graves at the Pine Hill Cemetery is between private citizens of Auburn. The views and actions by participants in that incident in no way reflect the views or policies of the City of Auburn. The flags were placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy on private graves to commemorate fallen confederate soldiers for Confederate Memorial Day, which is an official state holiday. Their removal was not an action taken by the City of Auburn. I cannot condone the removal of private property from a privately owned grave site. The sanctity of the final resting place of one's family or forefathers is certainly one of the most intensely private and sacred of things in our society.

The City recognizes that this is an issue between people of good conscience who have passionately held differences of belief. It is in the greatest tradition of American democracy that diverse citizens with differing views can peacefully and responsibly express themselves.

I believe it would be in the best interest of all involved to settle their differences privately".

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