The Detroit City Council will not allow a Smokey and the Bandit replica Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to jump outside of the upcoming Autorama car show because the car likely bears a Confederate flag on its license plate.
Organizers for the March 1-3 event intended the jump as a tribute to the film’s star, Burt Reynolds, who died in September. However, council members said the Georgia license plate seen in the film — which bears the Confederate battle flag — is a non-starter.
Councilman Scott Benson said the car “still proudly flies a Confederate flag, which is a symbol of oppression, slavery, as well as home-bred American terrorism. So this body said we are not going to support that type of symbolism nor the audacity to support that type of activity in the city of Detroit,” reported the Detroit News.
Benson was one of eight council members to either vote against the stunt or express disapproval. He called it a “slap in the face” to a city where most of the residents are African-America.
It’s unclear if the stunt car would actually bear the Georgia license plate from the film. The Facebook page of Northeast Ohio Dukes, the group behind the stunt, does not portray any Confederate imagery — including in photos of the presumed jump vehicle. However, two years ago, the group jumped a replica of the Dodge Charger from the Dukes of Hazzard that featured a Confederate flag painted on the roof.
“The Confederate flag … was proudly displayed within the last two years during an Autorama car jump when they came and expressly said they would not display that symbol during the jump,” Benson told the newspaper. “Come to find out they actually displayed that symbol, and that can be seen in YouTube video jumps they did on Atwater Street.”
Neither the Northeast Ohio Dukes nor Autorama responded to a Detroit News request for comment. However, an Autorama official did say the event was working with the city to resolve the issue.