(Orange, Texas)

April 6, 2013

City of Orange to discuss Confederate Park

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — The Orange City Council has plenty to discuss at the Tuesday meeting.

The agenda posted Thursday states the council will discuss a resolution concerning the construction and location of the Confederate Flag Memorial located at the corner of Interstate 10 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange and amending the Code of Ordinances of the City of Orange by adding Article 7.1500 to regulate flagpoles, flags and banners within the city limits.

A closed session will include deliberations with the City Attorney John Cash Smith concerning the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property concerning the Confederate Veterans Memorial Park.

Granvel Block purchased the land in May 2009 for $10,000 and transferred the deed to Sons of Confederate Veterans, located in Columbia, Tennessee, in May 2010 according to deed records.

Block has been raising funds for the construction of the park since at least 2011 and estimates it will cost $50,000 to erect.

Block wrote in The Confederate, a newsletter of the Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans Winter 2001 issue, “Neither our organization, nor our symbols should be penalized for actions by any other group. Our organization was formed to vindicate the memory of our Confederate ancestors and guard their history. Their symbols are a large part of that memory and history. These symbols represent our pride of no matter what misperception others may have regarding there history. We are not here to change history, or allow it to be changed; we have called to teach the truth.”

The permit issued for the park by the City of Orange states it is for a New Veterans Memorial.

The park has been a concerned of several citizens who have spoken out against it at recent city council meetings and at Orange County Commissioners Court. A Town Hall meeting and a Concerned Citizens Forum have been held in recent weeks to give the residents an opportunity to speak their opinion concerning the memorial.

Block has not attended the meetings, nor has a representative of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The resolution opposing the park states in part, “Whereas, the confederate flag and related symbols and icons have come to be widely viewed by Americans of all races as symbols embodying the principle of racism, discrimination, segregation and oppression.

Whereas, the proposed plans of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Inc. to construct such a memorial at such a highly visible location; the construction of a confederate veterans war memorial displays such symbols along a street named after Martin Luther King, Jr. would be an insult to Dr. King’s life work of seeking to banish racism and segregation; and

Whereas, it appears clear that a decision by the City of Orange to deny, or rescind, a building permit to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. for the proposed construction of such a memorial based upon the City of Orange’s disfavor of the content of the symbols and ideas endorsed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. would be constitutionally indefensible, and

Whereas, the City of Orange stakeholders have made financial investments into the quality of life and tourism; where the Sons of Confederate  Veterans, Inc. are not presenting an image that supports tourism or economic development and are more than likely going to damage the reputation and hinder economic development of the City of Orange; and encourage other stakeholders to pass this type of resolution.”

Council member Annette Pernell said she is glad the city is coming out to do something.

“Something is better than nothing,” Pernell said. “The city is trying to do what is best for all citizens.”

Orange City Council meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Orange Public Library Auditorium located at 220 North 5th Street in Orange.