Flag policy at Watertown City Hall generates emotional debate  (Audio)

June 8, 2020
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.—There was emotional discussion this (Monday) afternoon during a special Watertown City Council meeting over flying the Pride flag, representing support for the LGBTQ community, at Watertown City Hall.

Brett Ries made the request, asking for permission for the Pride flag to fly at City Hall this Friday, June 12th, to commemorate the four year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, which at the time, was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.

Councilman Don Roby made a motion to limit Watertown’s flag policy at City Hall to include only flags of the United States, the state of South Dakota, the city of Watertown, and the POW/MIA flag….

Ries told the council flying the Pride flag, for just one day at City Hall, would, “mean the world” to the LGBTQ community…

That drew this response from Roby…

Councilmembers who supported limiting the City Hall flagpole to government-only flags were Roby, Dan Albertsen, Bruce Buhler, Ried Holien, Adam Lalim, Beth Mantey, Jason Redemske, and Glen Vilhauer.

Voting against the motion were Michael Heuer and Josh Weyh.

Ries told the council that on Friday night at 9:00 p.m., 49 particpants will be holding LED candles to represent the 49 people who lost their lives in the nightclub shooting. Behind the 49 candleholders will be any community members who wish to participate.

The group will march west along Kemp Avenue, starting from the Watertown Post Office and ending at McKinley Park, similar to the Fourth of July parade.