Judge declares display of flag a historic monument


A circuit court judge has ruled that the flag that the city of Fort Smith removed from Riverfront Park is a historic monument.

Judge Gunner DeLay made the ruling and asked the city to file a waiver request with the Arkansas History Commission to determine whether Fort Smith officials can continue to permanently remove the flags.

The city filed the waiver request on September 29, but DeLay said the city failed to submit the information to court.

“The judges are bound by the record and it was not on the record,” DeLay said.

DeLay’s decision arose out of Joey McCutchen’s lawsuit against the city. He sued the city after authorities removed the “Flags Over Fort Smith” sign from the Fort Smith Riverfront Park which included seven flags of the governments that ruled Arkansas from 1699 to 2001. These flags included the Confederate States Flag from America.

In an email, city administrator Carl Geffken said the city plans to replace the display with flags celebrating the military. The flags were withdrawn 18 months ago.

“They, we’re going to force this down the throats of the citizens without any input from the public and on a fraudulent theory,” McCutchen said.

After reviewing emails from the city he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, McCutchen said the decision to replace flags with military flags was a cover-up for the real reason officials wanted to remove the flags. flags.

“They just make it up as they go, and the point is, I have all the documents to prove it. It’s just not my opinion. I can prove it with documents. What they’re just doing, they just bring out the reasons for the removal of that flag as they go, “said McCutchen.

He said officials actually decided to remove the flags, especially the flag of the Confederate States of America, after George Floyd’s murder.

“And then around that time, the George Floyd tragedy happened, and our left-wing city administrator decided it was time to undo our story,” McCutchen said.

McCutchen said that by removing the flags, including the flag of the Confederate States of America, city officials were attempting to erase the history of Fort Smith.

“The real reason is that they, Mr. Geffken, don’t like our story, and they want to undo my story,” McCutchen said.

McCutchen believes the decision to withdraw the flags without the public’s knowledge indicates a lack of transparency among city government.

“So this problem involves more than this flag problem. This involves systemic issues for this city where unelected bureaucrats make decisions that affect the whole city, and the board seems to let them do as they see fit, ”McCutchen said of Fort’s board of directors. Smith.

McCutchen said the flag issue and other similar issues should be brought to the public’s attention.

“Let’s have these discussions in public, that’s the biggest problem here,” said McCutchen.

Alex Gladden graduated from the University of Arkansas. She previously reported for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Jonesboro Sun before joining the Times Record. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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