By Scott McCauley and Coleman Taylor, Hometown Daily News
Comments made at Branson’s Board of Alderman meeting earlier this week came to the attention of the Harrison city officials who asked for an apology for the comments.
At the end of Tuesday’s Branson Board of Alderman meeting, City Administrator Stan Dobbins made comments regarding reaction to a video made during the “Black Lives Matter” rally in which a woman displays the Confederate flag and makes inflammatory comments. Dobbins, in addressing the backlash that has been directed at the City of Branson, mentioned that his African American son-in-law has never had any issues in Branson which led Dobbins to say, “...so it makes me wonder where all the mouths and voices come from that say ‘oh my God, the City of Branson has a problem’ when you can drive 30 miles down the road and be in Harrison, Arkansas. If you want to find the Ku Klux Klan, you go to Harrison, Arkansas.” Dobbins went on to say he is proud to live and be a part of Branson.
Several Harrison city officials including Mayor Jerry Jackson were made aware of those reports, with Mayor Jackson calling Branson Mayor Edd Akers to discuss it. Mayor Akers relayed to Dobbins Mayor Jackson’s request for an apology for the comments. Initially, Dobbins declined to apologize, however on Friday he changed his mind.
Hometown Daily News obtained a copy of the email Dobbins sent to Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson. In it, Dobbins says he does not apologize for his feelings towards racism and the KKK, but does apologize for “doing the same thing that is being done to us. That is using a broad brush when addressing a specific problem.” Dobbins acknowledges how Harrison has fought very hard to overcome that reputation and said his statement was not meant to show the city in a bad light.
You can see Dobbins’ email along with a response from Harrison Mayor Jackson with this story on our news site.
The entire e-mail is below as is the response from Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson:
I was contacted by Mayor Akers yesterday in regard to a statement that I made during our Board meeting on the 23rd of this month. I cannot and will not apologize for standing against racism and the beliefs of the KKK.
I would however, like to apologize to you and your entire community for doing the same thing that is being done to us. That is, using a broad brush when addressing a specific problem. That is as wrong there as it is here. I know the City of Harrison has fought very hard to overcome the reputation that it has fought of being a racist community, the white supremacist billboards, and the KKK marches that were held there. I do not wish to make you have to fight those battles again. I am also very aware that it is not right to blame the entire community for the actions of a few and that was never my intent as that is the same thing we are battling. I also know that you have another problem that we deal with as well. That being if you live within twenty miles of our town you live here. I believe Thomas Robb, unfortunately, having a Harrison address adds to your problems.
I should have directed the group outside of your actual City to the proper location. My statement was not meant to shed a bad light on your community and for that I do apologize. I know if we all work together we can overcome hate, racism, and bigotry.
If you would relay this statement to your Board and community I would be in your debt.
Stan Dobbins City Administrator City of Branson
As you probably realize, Harrison, Arkansas has been the focus of the untrue message about being the home of the KKK for many years, so I hope you understand the frustration when we hear such comments. I have lived in Harrison for over 40 years, and I feel like I know many people and have never known anyone other than the Robb family that is or ever has been affiliated with the KKK. Actually, I don’t even know anyone who knows anyone that has ever been affiliated with the KKK.
Yesterday, when speaking with Mayor Akers, I felt confident that this would be the end of this matter but was surprised when hearing you declined to apologize. However, I also understand what you are going through right now with the protests in Branson, so I was pleased to receive your letter of apology this morning. Harrison and Branson have had a great relationship, one we look forward to continuing and expanding in the future. As mayor, I’m sure I speak for the council and the community that we wholeheartedly accept your apology.
Respectfully, Jerry Jackson, Mayor City of Harrison, Arkansas