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Bill that would ban certain flags on public property back on agenda

The bill by state Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) will be taken up again in committee this week after the public roundly criticized it last week.

Allen called for SB4 to be repealed after last week's hearing. It had been on the table the previous week, but the Senate State Government Affairs Committee adjourned due to lack of quorum.

Camille Bennett, founder of Project Say Something, challenged Allen to “make it mean something.”

“Last year, my 73-year-old mother's African drumming group presented her with a Juneteenth flag,” Bennett said during Wednesday's hearing. “According to SB4, our county commissioners, who happen to be made up of far-right, conservative white men, even if they are, they are not allowing a group of black community elders to leave their property. He says he has the power to prosecute people for flying the flag inside the country. The flag represents a national holiday. Please make sense of it.”

Bennett also argued that the bill could make it a crime for students at state universities to display unapproved flags, even in private dorm rooms.

The law makes it a class C misdemeanor to display a flag on public property that is not on the list authorized by law.

The approved flags are:

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  • american flag
  • The official flag of a country or state that controlled territory within the state before the United States or Alabama
  • Official flags of U.S. states, territories, and districts
  • Official flags of municipalities in Alabama
  • boy scout flag
  • girl scout flag
  • american red cross flag
  • american former prisoner of war flag
  • Family Federation POW/MIA Flag
  • flag of freedom
  • Other flags approved by the entity managing the property

The bill would exempt certain public spaces, such as roads and stadiums, from the restrictions.

“SB4 was drafted with the intent of criminalizing Alabamians with different values ​​and targets marginalized communities who often have to rely on their First Amendment rights.” is logical,” Bennett said. “Because it violates the constitution and makes no sense.”

Former state Rep. Patricia Todd, the state's first openly gay representative, said the bill would also apply to the Pride flag flown in Birmingham during Pride Month every June. Demonstrators carrying LGBTQ+ flags on the Capitol grounds, as was done last year during the “Drag Me to the Capitol” march that drew hundreds of protesters to protest anti-LGBTQ bills. will be applied.

Todd urged lawmakers to think of members of the LGBTQ community as “family and neighbors.”

“We'll go to church with you. We'll take care of you when you're sick,” Todd said. “And most importantly, we are your constituents. We are not going to disappear, so let's take a step back and talk to each other about the issues that affect us and support our I really want to know more about the community.”

The bill returns to committee for consideration on Wednesday.

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