A Shiloh man complained to the Alton Marina, where he used to rent a slip, about two boats displaying the Confederate flag, according to the Alton Telegraph.
George Edwards, an African-American boater, said he and a friend saw the flags during Fourth of July weekend and have been bothered by the sighting since. Two of his friends, who are also black and have boats at the city-owned marina, are also offended by the flags, Edwards said.
“I found it offensive, what it did was remind me of a bad era,” Edwards told the Telegraph. “It took me some place I don’t want to go. It made me angry and I don’t like to be angry. I’m never going back there as long as they’re (flags) there.”
In response to the complaints, Mayor Brant Walker said while he can appreciate people may be offended by the flags, Alton is not in the position to regulate freedom of expression.
While Alton Marina has 38 conditions that people leasing a slip must follow, none of the rules apply to decorations, signs or flags on the vessels, the Telegraph reports.
One of the flags is displayed on a large houseboat and the other flies on a boat near the Marina swimming pool.
Alton City Attorney Jim Schrempf offered his legal opinion in a letter to city officials, which the Telegraph obtained after requesting a copy. The letter explains that the city does not have a right to regulate free expression by “regulating signage on a boat such as is being experienced in this instance involving a Confederate flag.”