PORTSMOUTH, OH (WOWK) – Some time has passed since the Portsmouth City Council first discussed the issue of offensive material on city-owned property. Since then, city residents have been voicing their opinions on the issue as well.
When the subject first came up on November 23rd, Portsmouth 2nd Ward Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon suggested putting into the city-owned riverfront camper’s agreement that no offensive language or symbols could be displayed. This restriction would include the confederate flag.
The issue directly targeted campers on the riverfront flying the flags which people driving across the bridge could clearly see. Gordon mentioned she was worried this might have a negative impact on tourism into the city, specifically, those interested in attending Shawnee State University.
City Solicitor John Haas mentioned during the meeting they would run into issues with the right to freedom of speech since the property is not privately owned.
Several people in the Portsmouth community shared their thoughts on the issue. One woman who prefers to remain anonymous gave us a statement saying “This displays racism and should not be the first thing you see when entering into the city.”
Others we spoke with also agree, but some who say they have owned the flag before touched on how they see it now.
Down south they have different views on it. Up here it’s more of a race thing.Graham Hiles, Portsmouth resident
Portsmouth residents Graham Hiles and Jack Stewart both say they can remember a time when they flew the flag along with it’s representation of racism. Hiles recalls when he was growing up being “raised around people that were racist.”
Hiles and Stewart both say they no longer affiliate themselves with racial discrimination.
Even though they say the flag represents something other than racism to them now, they believe the council shouldn’t be the only one to decide.
If Portsmouth wants to ban them, then I think there should be a vote, but it would be something I would vote for.Jack Stewart, Portsmouth resident
As of right now, it’s looking like the council will not be taking any immediate action.