Friday, October 2, 2015

Independence County judge furls the Confederate flag at courthouse

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 11:13 AM

NO LONGER FLYING: A banner that represented the Confederate States of America in the early days of Arkansas secession has been removed from the pole at the Independence County Courthouse.
  • NO LONGER FLYING: A banner that represented the Confederate States of America in the early days of Arkansas secession has been removed from the pole at the Independence County Courthouse.
Independence County Judge Robert Griffin confirms that he had a Confederate flag taken down last night at the Independence County Courthouse because of continuing controversy.

The League of the South, a neo-Confederate group with some secessionist tendencies, had taken some credit for a unanimous Quorum Court vote to support flying a Confederate flag on a flagpole installed by Sons of Confederate Veterans. We've written about the ongoing controversy regularly.

The flag's disappearance was mentioned on social media this morning. I sought confirmation from Griffin, who recently announced a party switch to seek re-election next year as a Republican. His response:

Long story short, I had no intention for the QC to vote on this issue and create policy. I intended to allow the Hardee flag [a banner flown by some Confederate troops] return if no dissent by the QC's silence.

That way I could respond quickly if an issue arose. The QC wished to be on record and I allowed them to exercise that right. After it became policy, my job is administrative. Under that requirement, I worked to get the consent of the SCV and it took a week to achieve that end.

The pole was put up years ago and had various flags over time. In the current atmosphere, I convinced them of the political realities and told them how the endgame would play out. They were agreeable and sensitive to that request. With their consent, I took it down last night. I wish to emphasise this radical LOS group had nothing to do with the QC decision. No one knew who or what they were because they were nonexistent to county government. You may certainly quote me as denouncing their goals and intention. They have taken credit where absolutely none was due.

I talked by phone with Griffin who said he'd never expected the Quorum Court to have a formal vote on the flag and thus set policy for the county. He said the law might support flying a historical emblem. But he said he'd decided to take the flag down for a cooling off period following the shootings in South Carolina. He said the county was likely legally able to display a historical banner. But the subsequent controversy convinced him, he said, it shouldn't have been put back up "because of what it can turn into." 

He said, ""We don't need to allow any Confederate flag up there. We're not going to divide a community."

Griffin said he expected his decision wasn't the end of division. He said he expected the Quorum Court would likely discuss the matter further and be divided on whether the flag should stay or go. From his standpoint, however, "It's laid to rest forever."

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