(Orange, Texas)

February 28, 2013

Councilwoman: Flag Memorial is not a black and white issue

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Protests against a Confederate Flag Memorial were raised during the Orange City Council Neighborhood meeting on Tuesday.

Residents have spoken out against the proposed park, which would be located five miles west of the Texas Louisiana state line on I-10, during the last two city council meetings and at Orange County Commissioners Court.

Residents have said they did not want the park at that location, which is near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.

Texas Division Commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans Granvel Block purchased the land for the purpose of erecting a memorial.

Council members told residents Block provided building plans and met all minimum standards of ordinance when applying for the permit.

Council members said they have not received any calls supporting the project at this time.

The council said it has a legality issue because denying the permit would be a violation of first amendment rights.

The first amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’

The first part of the 14th amendment reads, ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’

Andrew Culpepper,  a representative of Jack Smith, city attorney, said the city attorney is looking into the situation.

“The city had no other choice,” Culpepper said. “To deny it would cause the city to be subject to a lawsuit by suppressing viewpoints.”

Council member District 3 Essie Bellfield said there were competent lawyers for the city working on the matter and that TML would be able to help if required.

TML is the Texas Municipal League, established in 1913, exists solely to provide services to Texas cities.

“We have to be legally right,” Bellfield said. “Be sure the rest of us are fighting it.”

Annette Pernell, council member district 4, is a veteran and has several family members who are veterans.

“This is not a black and white issue. Sons of the Confederate Veterans have been going though the Southern states acting like idiots on the pole,” Pernell said. “Veterans need to be remembered  because we would not be where we are today without veterans. This is not a black and white issue. It is a right and wrong issue.”

Pernell also said that Orange is a city that wants to grow and this park will kill the city.

“Action will cause reaction,” Pernell said.

Pernell also said that Block does live in Orange County but not within the city of Orange.

“Our hands are essentially tied,” Pernell said. “We work for you. Help us help you. Write a letter for or against.”