Orange city officials hold private meeting to discuss controversial memorial

Orange city officials and a select few citizens took part in a closed door meeting at the city zoning office Wednesday morning. The topic of discussion? A Confederate memorial to be built at corner of Martin Luther King Jr Drive and Interstate 10.  The memorial is an undertaking of the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization.

"I've received many negative comments about the project... The mayor asked me to schedule a meeting with some of the participants that made public comments," said Orange City Manager Shawn Oubre.

The city attorney and city council members Essie Bellfield, Annette Pernell, and Charles Guillory, were among those present at the meeting. Concerns about the memorial's construction were addressed in the meeting.

"The concern of the image that it's going to give the city as we try to develop and attract tourism," Oubre said, speaking of the city's interest in the matter.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans say the memorial would feature 26 different flags used by the Confederate States of America. Orange NAACP branch president Dr. Jackie Mayfield says the flags are a symbol of racism the city doesn't need.

"They may not see it that way, but they have a flag that symbolizes slavery... and that is not good for the public and will bring down the city financially if it's allowed to happen," said Mayfield.
Mayfield says possible avenues of legal action were discussed in the meeting, but would not elaborate.  No concrete decisions were made, but Mayfield says the fight will go on.

"Our town is too important to let it be usurped by a certain group that has ill intent," he said.

Those in the meeting who oppose the memorial say they plan to hold another meeting, this time open to the public, once they decide on a forum.

No one with the Sons of Confederate Veterans attended the meeting. The group's leader, Granvel Block, has not returned phone calls asking for comment.



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