Lake City FL to be ground zero in war against official use of Confederate Flag in Florida
Posted August 6, 2012
By Stew Lilker
Lake City, FL – Last Monday’s NAACP Lake City chapter town hall meeting was mostly an informational meeting, which reminded all the attendees what the NAACP stood for and how it got to where it is today. Three speakers addressed the gathering: Adora Obi Nwezi, President of the State NAACP; Dale Landry, President of the NAACP Tallahassee chapter; and David Honig, NAACP Special Council for Civil Rights. There was consensus among the three speakers that the Lake City Police Chief, Argatha Gilmore, was not ready for job, but the issue of Lake City’s official use of the Confederate Flag was the omnipresent issue in the post meeting conversation.
After the meeting drew to a close your reporter spoke first with Reverend Joy Gallmon, pastor of the New Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church. (Rev. Gallmon can be seen here during more pleasant times for the local NAACP).
The Observer asked, "Rev. Gallmon, are you in favor of the NAACP’s stand of removing the flag from the official City seal?
Rev. Gallmon answered, "Yes, and this is why. When I came to town I was stopped at a red light and I looked over at one of the City’s trucks and saw the logo and thought to myself, that says a lot about the place. So I instantly made some assumptions about Lake City.
"When the outside world sees that, it follows that they will make assumptions about all the citizens in the community. We have to be careful about the face we project to the world. It is different for me to see it on somebody’s car rather than on public property, like a City vehicle.
"I stand with the NAACP on removing the flag from the City seal."
NAACP Tallahassee president, Dale LandryNext, the Observer spoke with Dale Landry, President of the NAACP Tallahassee chapter.
The Observer, "Mr. Landry, I am trying to figure out where we are now. Can you help me?"
Mr. Landry, "The flag has got to go. We hope the Chief will resign. We are totally dissatisfied based on what we’re finding. The more we are uncovering – it’s coming out more and more."
The Observer, "And the local NAACP?"
Mr. Landry, "We’re waiting for them to make their decision. They have to make their choice, we’ve made ours."
Lake City/Columbia County NAACP Pres. John MayoLocal NAACP President, John Mayo, joined the conversation.
The Observer asked, "Mr. Mayo, do you think you’re going to end up on a parallel track with the State NAACP?
Mr. Mayo replied, "We’re going to be on the same track. I think after this meeting the local members understood things a little bit better. They understand our duties and our principles. I don’t think they quite understood that before. We really won’t know what the branch is going to do until after our meeting. I am hopeful that they’re going to be consistent with the mission of the NAACP."
Tallahassee NAACP President Landry rejoined the conversation, "We are coming back here next year to help them celebrate the Olustee Festival. There are two states that passed resolutions for the condemnation of the Confederate flag. Florida is going to be the third state and we are going to do it at the Olustee Festival. We’re coming back."
"Next year the national NAACP is having its convention in Orlando. We are getting ready to make a major resolution and then Lake City will become ground zero for Florida’s call for the removing of that flag."
"We want to bring as many folks as we can to help them celebrate Olustee. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference — we want all the civil rights groups to help them celebrate and take part."
The Observer, "Maybe the flag will be gone by then?"
Mr. Landry crystallized the NAACP’s position, "If they keep it we will be telling people to gas up — in Gainesville; in Stuart; in Madison; and in Valdosta. People have to know what they’ve got in Lake City — the attitude — the mentality."
Lake City Police Chief passes the buck on an issue she created
On July 3, 2012, after freely giving a statement to the Observer regarding the Olustee Festival photo, Chief Gilmore e-mailed the Observer, which in relevant part said this:
I feel duty-bound to say this as well. If you write an article, that promotes racial discord within our city and you know the truth of that picture, I will not participate any longer with the Columbia County Observer. I will live with any further articles you write and trust the wisdom of our citizens to be able to discern what is truth or false. It is time to stand up for truth and not allow a few citizens to create dissention in our city.
The Lake City Reporter sat on the story and the photo for two weeks before publishing it. The publisher of the paper is also president of the Lake City/Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.
City Manager Wendell Johnson and the City Council
The City Council, while giving a vote of confidence to the Chief and the City Manager at its last meeting, has been silent on the issue of the continued use of the Confederate Flag on the City seal.
A confidential source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, spoke to the Observer regarding the intentions of the City Manager, "Mr. Johnson is just going to sit on this and do nothing. He thinks it is just going to go away."