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Exclusive: Councilman returns Confederate flags, urges protest

By Robert "Rob" Redding Jr.

Editor & Publisher

April 30, 2009, 12 p.m. - An Auburn City Council member, who removed Confederate flags from a city-owned cemetery, says that he has returned the flags that he took one week ago. However, is still refusing to apologize and is calling for a protest of the racially charged emblem at the city's next council meeting.

Councilman Arthur L. Dowdell Sr. said yesterday that he returned four flags to the local leader of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. He also gave the group $20.00 for one of the flags, which he says was accidently broken when he ripped it out of the ground.

"I gave the flags back because I thought it was the right thing to do," he told Redding News Review. "I did not want them to say that I have desecrated their flag."

Dowdell, who removed four flags from the Pine Hill Cemetery on April 23, said he is still planning to submit legislation banning such "hate material" next week. He is also asking that blacks who disapprove of the Confederate flag being posted in public places attend Tuesday's council meeting.

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Dowdell has been confronted with mounting public pressure from the United Daughters of the Confederacy to apologize for removing the flags, which were posted for Confederate Memorial Day. At least one talk show host is trying to organize the KKK to attend the next council meeting, according to a report in the local newspaper.

Redding News Review was first to report that Dowdell had received over 1,000 email and phone calls, which have included racial epithets and threats to his life. The FBI is investigating, he says.

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