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Old 01-29-2003, 08:27 PM   #1
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Confederate County Commissioner Leaves Republican Party, Joins Democrats


Blount rejects Confederate images


News staff writer

ONEONTA Blount County commissioners say there is a place in history for the Confederacy, but there's not a place for it on certain county-owned property.

They ordered the removal Monday of a Confederate Drive sign from county property, a small Confederate flag from in front of the courthouse and any Confederate stickers from county vehicles.

Commissioner R. C. Smith, who was the lone vote against the decision, vowed to fight the removal. He is the one who named and posted the Confederate Drive sign at his Cleveland office and the one who put the flag in front of a courthouse veterans memorial. The full-time commissioner also has a Confederate flag sticker on the toolbox of his District 4 pickup.

"I don't think you've got the right to take anything down," Smith told commissioners before the 3-1 vote.

Smith, now in the third year of his first term, said he has a lawyer and plans to fight.

Commissioners voting to remove the items said after the meeting that residents had complained about the street sign, flag and the sticker on Smith's truck.

"My agenda is not to do away with the Confederacy. It's a great part of our history. It's to do away with the bickering over all of it," said Commissioner Tom Ryan. "There's a place for everything, but it's not on county property. To keep antagonizing people with these little emblems is not right, on either side."

After the vote, Smith said: "Bunch of wimps." Commission Chairman Royce King warned Smith to watch his remarks and asked a sheriff's deputy to move to the front of the room, where commissioners sat.

The road sign went up after a new county road shop and District 4 office opened last year off Blount County 1. Smith said the drive serves only the shop, and he doesn't believe he needs permission to name it. The other commissioners disagree.

The first green Confederate Drive street sign went up in August, Smith said. Someone stole it, and someone tried to steal the second one this past weekend, he said.

Smith, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, also put up one small United States and one small Confederate flag in front of a courthouse war veterans monument about two years ago. The monument honors veterans beginning with World War I, but Smith said the Confederate flag was appropriate because those men had fathers who fought for the Confederacy. He said he's received no complaints about the sign, sticker or flag.

Commissioners did formally address several items in Smith's District 4 office, including a print of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Smith said displaying the items is just his way of trying to honor Confederate history.

"This is a slippery slope of political correctness that once embarked on will have dire consequences for the people of Blount County," Van Gunter, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the commission.

Commissioner Robert Bullard said he doesn't have a problem with certain observances, such as Robert E. Lee's birthday. But, he said, "I don't like that flag being crammed down folks throats that don't like it."

Angry over the decision, Smith announced in the meeting that he was resigning from the Republican Party. He later said he plans to switch to the Democratic Party. All the other commissioners are Republican.

Those damned, liberal, Yankee-sympathizin' Republicans!


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Old 01-29-2003, 10:48 PM   #2
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He sounds like one smart guy. We know they will love the Confederate flag at all their Dem. Party gatherings.

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Old 01-30-2003, 01:23 AM   #3
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Originally posted by deep
He sounds like one smart guy. We know they will love the Confederate flag at all their Dem. Party gatherings.
Senator Byrd
Gov Hollings both Democrats will embrace him

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Old 01-30-2003, 10:39 AM   #4
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Just for the record, I'm not one for political correctness, but no one has ever justified the displaying of the confederate flag in this day and time to me.

BUT, this has to be the dumbest move I've ever seen. WTF?!
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Old 01-30-2003, 10:53 AM   #5
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I have a pretty negative attitude towards Southern Democrats anyway.

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