Bee County Confederate Flag Debate Has Community Split

Oct 15, 2013
by Janine Reyes

BEE COUNTY — A national controversy has Bee County split almost 50/50. County leaders passed an ordinance banning the confederate flag last month. That means what is tradition at Western Week is no more.

For more than 36 years the Confederate flag has been a part of what some say is just southern pride in support of the Go-Texan movement at the event. But, others say that flag is offensive and racist. Now it could take center stage as Western Week kicks off Thursday.

"I thought this would unite the community, yeah, we don’t like that symbol, but unfortunately that has not been the case, it’s divided our community," said County Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez. He made the motion to pass the ban on the flag.

He does display the United States flag and a United States Marine Corps flag in his office, but he says the confederate flag is one that carries a double meaning, one that he respects another he despises.

"To me, to a lot of people, it’s a symbol of racism and people being kidnapped, lynched, murdered," Rodriguez said.

But others don’t see the flag the same way. "I realize there’s history with people using it as a racist statement but it’s not racist at all to me, it’s about southern pride," said a woman who only identified herself as Lucy.

Once Lucy heard commissioners banned it from this year’s western week, it struck a cord with her. She says that violates her right to free speech.

"They said no participants, including cook-off teams could put the confederate flag on their pit site," she told us.

"What it says is any offensive material, signs or flags, including the confederate flag would not be allowed on property," Rodriguez confirmed. But he says what it means is the flag can’t be flown on the large flag pole at the Bee County Expo Center.

While the Confederate flag may not be flying on that flag pole, it actually may end up being more visual at this year’s Western Week, because a group of people plan to fly the flag just outside the gate.

"We’re going to do a rolling protest, a peaceful demonstration for those who support the true meaning of the confederate flag," Lucy said, "roll your flag, wear your confederate shirt or ball cap."

We told Rodriguez about the group’s plans to protest. "This is the first I’ve heard of it," he said.

Rodriguez plans to tell law enforcement, just in case.

"I did research, there’s over 500 hate groups thy have the confederate flag as their symbol," explained Rodriguez.

But Lucy hopes her protest will help others to see the flag the way she does.

"There’s nothing demeaning or demoralizing about the confederate flag of you know the true meaning of it," she said.

The protest is planned for Saturday afternoon at 2 pm in front of the Bee County Expo Center.

© 2013 KRIS and Synapse.

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