Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Petition Presented to City of Louisville to Remove State Flag

A number of citizens attended tonight’s Louisville Board of
Robert Brown presents his petition to Louisville Board
Aldermen meeting in support of an item that was not on the original agenda. After taking care of agenda items, Mayor Will Hill asked the Board if they wanted to allow a local citizen to speak on an item. The Board consented.

Local businessman Robert Brown addressed the Board concerning the Mississippi state flag specifically flown over the recently dedicated memorial to tornado victims and the military at the city cemetery – Memorial Gardens. Brown presented a petition to the City to remove the state flag from all city owned property.

Brown spoke of the Memorial Service on April 28 and his reaction noting that he closed his eyes when the Mississippi flag was raised at the Memorial and referenced others’ reaction as well. Brown indicated that other communities in the area had recently voted to remove the flag (including Starkville and Columbus). He also referenced Ms House of Representative Speaker Phillip Gunn who has gone on record with a desire to change the flag and a recent Clarion Ledger article about the position of famous Mississippians such as Morgan Freeman and John Grisham.

“People know the truth about the Civil War”, said Brown. “The South lost. It’s your business what you do in your yard but where it comes to where you pay your taxes – it’s different.”

He also noted that the tornado brought people in this community together but…. “the farther away we get from that date, it seems like the farther apart we get. We should not be controlled by soft bigotry and hate. We don’t have to wait for the state to change it, we can take it down now.”

Several Board members spoke on the matter. Alderman Eugene Crosby noted that the Board “has heard you and I’m sure we will make the right decision.”

Alderwoman Gwenita Mays also commented noting that she understood the emotion of the issue and was sure that the Board will come together to make right decisions.

While not related to city properties, Mayor Will Hill brought a state statute to the Board’s attention requiring the state flag to be flown on all school properties. “I firmly believe that we as a community ought to come together and say – Look, we’re unified in the fact that we are a community – we come together but we should yield to the state and see what happens. My fear is that – what happens if it does go before the leadership and the leadership doesn’t make a change or if it does go back before the people for a vote and what if it’s voted… what have the cities and towns done?”

Noting some dissent in the audience – Hill said. “I see ones in here nodding their head and that’s fine. You can disagree but I was asked a question and therefore I’m going to answer it."

Noting that the Board of Aldermen has full authority when called to
Protesters outside of Louisville City Hall on Tuesday
order, Hill said, “I don’t have a stance on this specific flag except I do have a stance on the way democracy works. We are a community that has come together. We have a long way to go and there is so much going on (in the community) behind the scenes. I ask for your patience and consideration to be given to each board member. The item can certainly be on the agenda in the future, September 15 is our next board meeting.”

Mayor Hill indicated that Board members could call for a vote if desired at that time.

Alderwoman Judy McLeod also spoke. “I agree that it should be heard by the legislature and the governor but we need to take a leadership role. McLeod also noted the flag change in towns in the area.

After the meeting, several protesters staged outside of the doors of Louisville City Hall with signs and chants of “What do we want? – Take it down.”