Auburn City Council urges Dowdell to apologize for removing flags

May 5, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - An Auburn City councilman is being asked by the city council to apologize for removing some confederate flags at a local cemetary. The group that placed them there says they are honoring history, but the councilman views them as offensive. The issue caused quite a stir at Tuesday's city council meeting.

An assortment of groups from each side showed up to voice their concerns regarding councilman Arthur Dowdell's efforts to remove the bars and stars. Some understanding appeared to be reached at the meeting, but the councilman continued to defend his actions.

Councilman Dowdell says he is apologizing for the misunderstanding about the flags being placed in honor of Confederate Memorial Day. However, he says he is not apologizing for pulling up the flags. "If I as a city councilman had known that the Daughters of the Confederacy had put those flags out, maybe we would have had a different outcome, but as far as feeling sorry about that flag and if I feel remise, I do not feel that," Arthur Dowdell said.

The flags were placed in the cemetary during the week leading up to Confederate Memorial Day held on April 27th. The United Daughters of the Confederacy hosted a ceremony there last Sunday to honor the fallen confederate soldiers. "This is done in an act of rememberance and respect for those men who fought to protect the rights of the Southern States of America. We feel that it is our right to celebrate our heritage in a manner that has been passed down from generation to generation," a United Daughter of the Confederacy said at the meeting.

Dowdell says he pulled up some flags at Pine Hill Cemetary because he viewed as offensive, launching some intense debate regarding his actions. Since then the city of Auburn and Dowdell himself have received some threatening emails and letters. "It's saddening to me in the big picture, from that aspect because this is a diverse community that embraces peoples of all race and colors," Mayor Bill Ham said.

During Tuesday's council meeting, the city council asked Dowdell to apologize for removing the flags. City officials continue uphold their initial response, stating that they have never condoned the councilman's actions. Dowdell is apologizing to the United Daughters of the Confederacy for the misunderstanding

Auburn police did increase their patrol tonight due to the intense emotions that have been surrounding this issue. However, no violence broke despite some heated debate.