Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders announced Wednesday that he will not bring before City Council next week the issue of the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Sutherlin Mansion.
Saunders said he came to his decision following several discussions with City Attorney Clarke Whitfield.
“The city attorney’s initial position has not changed and therefore, pending any new information forthcoming to City Council, this issue in my view appears to be rendered moot,” Saunders said.
Last week, Vice Mayor Gary Miller announced that City Council would revisit the issue at its July 7 meeting. Miller made the announcement at Saunders’ request.
“While attending a national conference, I learned from many telephone calls of much media and citizen inquiry being made of Danville as it relates to the Confederate flag and the mass shooting that took place on the evening of June 17 at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston,” Saunders said. “As I am concerned about maintaining a positive image of our city, I was concerned that such renewed attention would depict just the opposite. In my discussion with the vice mayor, I asked him to state that City Council would be revisiting the actions it took in November 2014.”
At its meeting on Nov. 6, 2014, City Council voted to adopt a resolution advising the Danville Museum of History and Fine Arts that Council had determined under Virginia law it does not have the authority to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Sutherlin Mansion, which the City owns and leases to the museum. The museum’s board of directors had requested removal of the flag, which is the Third National flag of the Confederate States of America.
Saunders returned from the conference and met last week with the city attorney. He met again with the city attorney on Monday and yesterday.
“It is my understanding from the city attorney that this issue is considered to be a ‘local’ matter,’” Saunders said. “As such, this matter was voted on and decided at the November meeting. I want to thank the vice mayor for his cooperation and for representing the City during my absence.
“Danville is a great city with wonderful, welcoming citizens. I ask that we remember that respect, love and a greater acceptance of ethnicity, individual differences and culture will enable Danville to become even greater.”