Flag of Conflict (with video)
Confederate Flag one of many that flies at entrance to Old Town
Penny Fortner, owner of the Barter Inn that sells old military goods and other items, said that the Confederate Flag she occasionally flies in Old Town Cottonwood is not a sign of racism and is "part of history."
The flag is covered under her 1st Amendment rights, explained Fortner.
The local business owner said she has been flying the flag for 30 years, off and on, and changes it out with other flags she sells, mostly military flags such as a "Don't Tread on Me" flag.
Fortner's store is located at the first turn going into Old Town Cottonwood.
The city manager of Cottonwood, Doug Bartosh, said he has heard two complaints about the flag, but agrees that it's her 1st Amendment right to fly the flag.
People may not "like" the flag, he said, but it's not on public property, it's on private property, Bartosh said Thursday morning.
As a former law enforcement officer, Bartosh said he is always concerned about people's rights.
Bartosh said he has checked with the city attorney and Fortner is within her legal rights. However, Bartosh said public opinion could alter her desire to fly that flag.
Recently, Fortner said she was having difficulty getting the Confederate flags to sell after South Carolina passed legislation to remove the Confederate battle flag from State capitol grounds last summer because it was viewed as a reminder of racial division.
But Fortner said she wanted all her customers know, who have been wanting to purchase a flag, that she now has them in stock.
"I'm not a racist at all," Fortner explained. "It's equally as popular as my military flags. It's also a matter of freedom of speech."
Asked if he was concerned about the public opinion that tourists may bring back to their communities of Old Town Cottonwood, the city manager said he is concerned of any impressions that they may get.
This includes "people begging for money," but it's legal, he explained.