The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library has removed a flag from a public sidewalk in protest of the city’s recent decision to remove Confederate flags from its library branches.
In a statement, the Kansas City City Public Libraries Board of Directors said the removal of the flag violates the First Amendment and is contrary to the library’s commitment to open and inclusive learning and expression.
“The Kansas City branch of the Public Library of Kansas City has the authority to remove any flag or other symbol deemed to be offensive or discriminatory to our community, regardless of the intent behind the flag,” the statement reads.
“We have done so with respect to the flag on public sidewalks in our community.
In addition, our staff have been informed of the removal and are working to remove it from the public area of the library.”
The statement continued: “The flag displayed in our public spaces must be removed in compliance with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and the First is the right of free speech.
We understand the flag is not appropriate for public gatherings and we ask that people respect this flag as it is.”
The Kansas County Public Library board of directors said they had “no plans” to remove the flag, but would have a “few flags” removed.
The flags were removed in January of 2017, and now will be removed on the same day, April 22.
On Wednesday, a Kansas City councilman proposed a resolution to remove all flags from public parks, sidewalks, and buildings within the city limits.
The resolution, introduced by council member Brian Toth, would require the city council to “prohibit the display of any flag that has a depiction of a Ku Klux Klan or other hate group.”
The resolution says the city must also create “specific policies to prohibit the display, advertising, sale, or display of flag imagery, flags, or symbols” in the city, which would include “public and private displays of any symbols of any group, and to prohibit any flag-related activity, including the display or sale of any such flags, flags or imagery.”
Kansas City Mayor Sly James, a Republican, introduced the resolution after seeing an image of the Confederate flag on a public bus during a protest rally.
“This is not a symbol of hatred or racism, this is a symbol that represents the great diversity that is Kansas City,” James told reporters.
“If we can find a way to bring the city together, I think that would be great.”
The ACLU of Kansas said the city should be allowed to take the flag down, but not on the sidewalks.
“While this is an extremely sad and unfortunate situation, the city of Kansas must be free to take steps to protect the public’s right to assemble and express their views,” said ACLU of Missouri executive director Lisa Gilbert.
“It is important to remember that the flag of the Confederacy has no place in Kansas City and it is deeply offensive to the people of Kansas.”
The removal of Confederate flags has become a divisive issue in the state, with Kansas City Councilwoman Karen Catt calling it “offensive” to both her city and the state.
“I don’t care who you are, who you’re from, or where you come from,” Catt told Fox News on Tuesday.
“Just because you have a flag on it doesn’t mean you’re not Kansas.
We can’t have that.
And I think this is the time for Kansas to come together as a community and not to divide us.”