Confederate flag will remain a part of Perryville’s city flag

The Perryville City Council cast aside its vote from last month to form a committee to redesign the Perryville city flag, which says “Battle of Perryville” instead of “City of Perryville.” The flag includes the depiction of a Confederate flag design, and the council instead decided to keep the flag as it is.

The decision came during Thursday’s city council meeting with a vote 4-1, with City Councilor Adam Gray as the “nay” vote.

City council member Kelly Gray, who advocated for a new flag design last month, was not present at the meeting to vote.

Last month the decision was made to form a committee with city council members Tim Simpson and Kelly Gray, along with the original artist of the current flag design, Stuart Arnold, to redesign the flag. Now, that committee has been dissolved.

Simpson brought up his case to keep the flag during the “old business” portion of Thursday’s meeting. He said the majority of people around town he’s talked to have said not to change the flag.

“I’m a representative of the people,” he said. “I’m not a representative of the people driving through town.”

Kelly Gray had at last month’s meeting expressed concern about the impression of the town not only to citizens but also to passers-by. She said if the flags were hung along Second Street, she didn’t want to give the impression the town celebrated the Confederacy and said though she understands the flag is meant to commemorate soldiers who died in the battle and the battle itself, she was concerned people driving through town might get the wrong idea of the town’s intentions by depicting a Confederate flag design. She noted that some people find the Confederate flag offensive.

“I’ve also spoken with several members of the city of Perryville who do find the Confederate flag, you know, to be hurtful or offensive, and whether I personally agree with that or not is not the point here,” Kelly Gray said at last month’s meeting. “The point is that we are representing those people, and you can’t discredit their feelings because they’re entitled to that.”

She also said last month, “Now that my eyes have been opened to the way, you know, people who live in this community feel about it, I’m ashamed, really, that we have — I just can’t imagine driving down my Main Street and feeling like this is my community, but it’s hurtful to look at certain things that represent my community because of the color of my skin,” she said. “That would be a terrible feeling.”

During Thursday’s meeting, city council member Steve Bailey, who last month was the only city council member to vote “nay” to form the committee to redesign the flag — that decision passed 5-1 — was who seconded Simpson’s motion to keep the flag as is. He added that he has spoken to several business owners and citizens of Perryville and found most people he talked to wanted to keep the flag.

“I’m going to say that out of the people I talked to, 99% of them are not happy about this flag being changed,” he said. “They like it just like it is.”

The meeting also included a discussion about whether the Confederate flag on the city flag was historically accurate to what was flown in Perryville — there are multiple Confederate flag designs — and there was some confusion over the historical accuracy.

That being said, the city flag will keep its current design.

When asked on Monday morning for a comment about the decision, Kelly Gray was unaware of the decision to keep the flag as it is and said in a text message that the committee to redesign it “didn’t meet once” in the approximate month since it was formed.

“I am disappointed in this decision,” she said. “It is a step backward for our city and unfortunately misrepresents our citizens.”