Commissioners plead with confederate flag leader

June 04, 2008

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioners pleaded this morning with the leader of a group installing a massive confederate battle flag to consider other ways to observe his heritage than flying it over the junction where Interstates 4 and 75 meet.

Commissioners were told by one of the county’s attorneys that Marion Lambert, who unfurled the flag on Tuesday, appears to have complied with all the rules in preparing a Civil War memorial. With that, a majority of commissioners attempted a more emotional appeal.

"We don’t need to fragment our community," said Commissioner Rose Ferlita, who brought the issue forward for discussion. "We need to blend it."

Commissioners got a taste of the wounds that may be opened when community activist Michelle Williams addressed them, displaying two blown-up images of lynchings.

"You want to put that flag up and you want to remind people what it stands for?" said Williams, her voice rising in volume as she turned to address Lambert. "It’s not going to happen."

Yes it is, Lambert said afterward. He said he has been seeking since 2006 to have commissioners sign a simple proclamation to honor confederate history. Commissioners refused and so he has resorted to this.

"We’ve been marginalized, put off the table," Lambert said. "Now they want to talk to us? Hey, your wife’s done left you."

© 2008 · St. Petersburg Times

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