Confederate Flag Banned by Harrison Chamber of Commerce
I was told to contact you about a situation I have encountered with the Harrison Arkansas Chamber of Commerce banning Dixie Outfitters and anyone from displaying or selling any variations of the confederate flag specificity at the annual Crawdad Day Festival and now I am told any future Chamber of Commerce sponsored events. Below is a short history of what has transpired. Any help form you in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Back in 2005 I was present at the annual Crawdad Day Festival with my family in Harrison Arkansas. While walking around I noticed a marked out area where a empty vendor spot was. At the time I knew it was for a missing vendor. I did not think anything about it until later. That happened later when I came across a Dixie Outfitters booth. This was the owner of a local store in a neighboring city. He was away from the main festival area on private property. As I starting talking to him I asked why he was not in the main event area. He told me that the Chamber of Commerce (CC) banned him from the main event area because as they noticed him set up his booth they saw various items he was selling had the the Confederate flag on them. They at first told him he could not display or sell any flags, shirts, etc (any merchandise) that displayed the confederate flag. He informed them that nearly all the items he had for sale had an image of the Confederate flag. They told him he would have to leave. That was the empty spot I saw earlier in the main area of the festival. So he packed up his stuff and went to a part of the town where a friend owned private property and set up there. Later, when the CC members saw him relocate and set up at this new location they approached him with two police officers and told him once again he would have to leave. He informed the CC members that the police will arrest them before they arrest him because he was now on private property with the permission of the owner. At that time the police agreed and told the CC members they would have to leave. They did. After he told me this I was pretty angry and offended that our local CC would be that biased against our Confederate flag. I returned to the main festival area again and talked with several others venders in the area. They all told the same story. No sales or public displays of any variations of the confederate flag were allowed. I let several months go by before I contacted the CC. I am in the military and can be pretty busy at times. When I finally sat down to write the Harrison CC I asked them why they banned the sale and display of any variations of the Confederate flag. They told me it was a symbol of hate and they would not allow it in any future Chamber sponsored event. I wrote back and tried reasonably to explain it was not a symbol of hate but a flag of honor, heritage, freedom etc. for many Americans in the South to include American Black, White, Native American, Hispanic etc. referring to all those of diverse backgrounds who fought, died for, and served the cause of the Confederacy. They responded with pretty much the same politicly correct garbage and told me the ban would stand. At this time I got more aggressive and contacted friends in the SCV, as well as others I know who have a deep love for our southern heritage. The response was overwhelming and after a strong email and phone campaign I was informed by Scott Miller, the CC Chairman and the CC President, that the ban had been lifted and we could stop the email and phone campaign. I personally met with the CC President and he assured me the situation was now behind us. Shortly after that I had to leave the state for a month and a half for military training. I can not say for certain if some members of the CC waited for me to leave the area or not but what happened next smelled like a rotten fish. After being gone for only a week my wife called me up distressed because Scott Miller was leaving messages at my home. I do not know what was said but my wife felt intimidated some. Scott Miller is a manager at Arvest bank where we have our accounts and a property loan. This may add to why my wife was starting to feel a bit concerned. After talking to my wife I called Scott Miller up to find out what the heck was going on. He proceeded to tell me that the ban of any sale or public display of any variation of the Confederate flag will stand and will now be more encompassing. I asked him directly, would any company such as Dixie Outfitters not be allowed in the festival? He said they would not. I asked him if the SCV would be allowed. He got quite, and said if they displayed the Confederate flag they would not. He said very directly that no sale or display of any variation of the Confederate flag would be allowed. I told him I was disappointed. I was also deeply suspicious that this sudden reversal took place when I was outside of the state of Arkansas away form my home. I told him I did not have the time or resources to engage him and I could not fight him or the CC while away. I think he took that as I was giving up. Well that is not the case. I am back and I am taking up the fight against the biased actions of our noble southern symbols and flags. I can assure you I have been professional and respectful with the CC in all communications and I have asked all who are supporting me in this effort to be respectful as well. So far I think everyone has been. So that is the story in a nut shell. I find it fascinating that by the Harrison Chamber of Commerce Standards a business or organization could not even sell or display the Mississippi state flag. What a great offense to our Mississippi neighbors.
You can contact me at this email address or my cell or home number for more information or if you have any questions. (house)501-882-7602, (cell)501-425-4754
You can also contact the Harrison Chamber of commerce here, http://www.harrison-chamber.com/contact-us/
Jason Rice (TSgt USAF)
UPDATE – 3/31/09: A favorable relationship has since been made with the Harrison Chamber of Commerce.
CLICK HERE to read what Jason Rice accomplished.