- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

UNION SPRINGS, Ala. (AP) - An African-American attorney who removed Confederate battle flags from a historic cemetery has sparked a debate, including prompting calls that he be arrested or disbarred.

Myron Penn told WSFA-TV (https://bit.ly/1L9bSWH ) that he and his family removed the flags on Mother’s Day. Penn is a former state senator and previously served as chairman of the Bullock County Commission. He said he took the flags to City Hall so others can claim them.

“The reason why we picked them up is because the image of the flags in our community, a lot of people feel that they’re a symbol of divisiveness and oppression of many people in our community,” he said. “Especially with the history that that flag and the connotation and negativism that it brings. I would think that no one in our community would have a problem with this or with my actions at all.”

Opinion appeared divided in Union Springs.

“He did the right thing,” said resident Tchernavia Blackmon. “I wish I had been out there to help him pick up the flags.”

But Rebecca Atkins said she thought pulling up the flags showed disrespect to the dead.

“You got to give respect where it’s deserved and those soldiers gave their lives just like any other soldier gives their lives,” Rebecca Atkins said. “It’s nothing racial and it’s not about discrimination. You look at the person who served for our country and that’s what matters.”

The cemetery is owned by the city government. Mayor Saint T. Thomas Jr. said a non-governmental group illegally placed the flags without city permission.

“They had no business putting them out in the first place,” he said.

A representative of a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said he is considering legal action. Another group has announced it is planning a protest June 19-20.

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Information from: WSFA-TV, https://www.wsfa.com/

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