KLRT-TV (Little Rock), January 24, 2011
After the mayor of a small Arkansas town flew the confederate flag in observance of Robert E. Lee’s birthday, the city council passed an ordinance Monday saying only the US flag and Arkansas flag can be flown on city property.
Mayor Jim Smithson flew the flag above Marshal City Hall from the 14th to the 18th of January. It resulted in numerous phone calls, e-mails, and an emergency meeting to make sure it does not happen again.
City council member Dolphus Milam voted for the ordinance. “If they want to fly the confederate flag, let them fly it at home, why put it on City Hall?”
Mayor Jim Smithson says he doesn’t regret his decision to fly the confederate flag but he does regret the fallout. “Out of what I consider disrespect for Robert E Lee’s birthday and the hero that he was to a lot of people just like Martin Luther King, Jr. is to a lot of people.”
Daniel and Mayor Smithson say flying the confederate flag is not a racial issue but standing up for southern heritage, the military, and state’s rights.
While the majority of the city council feels this ordinance was the appropriate response to the controversy last week, many people agree with the mayor. The mayor says people in town have come up to him asking to shake his hand saying they’re proud of his actions and respect him for flying the confederate flag.
One resident attending the meeting, Larry Cotton, was critical of the decision. “I’m going to be very frank, you’re afraid you’re going to offend the blacks, that’s what it amounts to.”