Hillsborough can't remove Confederate flag

06/04/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Hillsborough County Commissioners today acknowledged that they can do nothing legally to remove a huge Confederate Flag that was hung yesterday at the junction of Interstate 75 and I -4, and is scheduled to be unveiled publicly next year.

However, Commissioner Jim Norman suggested that organizers think of hoisting a large American flag at the spot instead, and he urged the Sons of Confederate Veterans to work with members of the NAACP on such a compromise.

In 2005, a county land use hearing officer approved a request by Sons of Confederate Veterans member Marion Lambert's for a lighted park with monuments and a flagpole "to commemorate American veterans."

Commissioner Rose Ferlita raised the issue, acknowledging that it was legal for the group to hoist such a flag, but she said it would only fragment the community.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, six people commented on the flag issue, five supported it. But Michelle Williams was vehemently against it, what she called a "monstrosity.” She carried with her pictures of Blacks hung and lynched that she displayed on boards. Williams said she wanted to see some officials needed to be courageous and stop the flag from being hung.

Bart Siegel said those who call the Confederate flag a symbol of hate should feel obligated to defend their position, and he called for a public debate on the issue.

Interstate drivers got a sneak preview of the 50-foot by 30-foot flag Tuesday as organizers marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America.

For years, Hillsborough County Commissioners had routinely presented proclamations to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. But last year, the board changed the policy after it was embarrassed when it honored Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the same morning as a civil rights leader.

Chastened, the board then voted 4-3 against designating last April as Southern Heritage Month. Confederate member Marian Lambert has made regular visits to the County Commission over the past year, criticizing the board for that move.

Norman said he hoped that instead of the giant Confederate Flag, organizers could come together with perhaps members of the NAACP and propose instead putting up the American flag.

Commissioner Kevin White told Confederate members in the audience that they might be correct that there is an ignorance and lack of history amongst members of the public as to their criticism of the flag. But he said that perception is reality, and they needed to deal with that.

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You gotta be kidding me?

I grew up right down the street from where this flag is and still have a home there but am living in London, England, attending college. I want to stay in Britain and when I saw this shocking site on the internet I knew for sure that unfortunately the home I love so much is so full of ignorant, backward minded people that I need to stay in the UK for the best future for me. This rebel flag is even a symbol in other areas of the world such as Europe and Australia for White Power groups, everyone knows it, and everyone in Tampa needs to fight against this move which was a deliberate, symbolic attack on the Democratic nominee for President and on the core values of America in general. I have been saying for years the county/and or state needs to take steps to regulate giant billboards, signs, and displays along the interstate which are tawdry and distasteful, but in my worse nightmare I couldn't imagine what the next step would be in this cluttering of peoples field of vision on the roads. I just remember that ridiculous lighted message sign on the vineyard in that same area with all these half baked, supposed home spun wisdoms which always amounted to a type of self congradulatory nonsense, when I just had to look up at it because it might flash the temperature or time in between those Republican endorsements! Now this is too, too much. Leaders lead, do your damn jobs and GET RID OF IT. You know how God sent that hurricane to punish New Orleans, well watch out Sefner, that thing will fall hard.

this is a sad day...

This is the number one reason I didn't want to move back to FL with my mixed race family. This flag is hate speech not free speech and everyone knows it. Some may try to redefine it but they are ignorant pawns. This flag, as is true with all symbols of hate, is used to divide and hurt people. I do not agree that it will divide blacks and whites. I am white and no white person I know likes or agrees with the message of this flag. Hopefully all people will unite to protest this abomination. What an embarassment to tampa and florida. I do not believe this represents the majority here or any of the wonderful people I've met since I moved here. The leaders and comissioners can do something, it is time for things to change and this unacceptable flag of treason to be called what it truly is, a symbol of hatred and violence. It is a symbol of a past that needs to be dealt with here in Florida. This argument is so old. People will always be free to hate if that is the ugly life they choose but can they spew it on the rest of us under such a faulty guise and get away with it? Shame on the politicians who take part in allowing it.

Political Correctness vs. the Constitution

The news lately been filled with un-condemned examples of anti-WHITE diatribes by Barack Obama (from his book), his wife Michelle (from her college thesis) and his "pastor" the "Reverend" Wright (from just about everywhere) - and the folks posting here are concerned with "white" racism? Is black racism BETTER than white racism? And just how many lynchings have taken place in the South lately for Michelle Williams to be carrying around photos of lynching victims? Seems more than a bit "contrived", wouldn't you say? As for the battle flag "fracturing" the community, it would seem that the only way to keep it "whole" according to its opponents is to continually cow-tow to the demands of liberals and those who play the dreaded "race card" against all who refuse to "bend the knee" to their ideology, ignorance and prejudices. Frankly, that's too high a price to pay according to AMERICAN patriot Patrick Henry. According to Commissioner White, the SCV and its members have got to "live with the perception" of the flag even though it is based upon historical ignorance. The great philospher Goethe once said, "There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action" and it would seem that this meeting of the Hillsborough County Commissioners and their hysterical liberal constituents clearly illustrates the truth of that. For it is obvious the Commissioners champion the non-existent "pc" rights of some citizens over the CONSTITUTIONAL rights of others. Since there is constitutional protection regarding freedom of speech and expression - but NO protection in the Constitution against being offended, it would seem that they have backed the wrong horse here. So, the supposed quest for "tolerance" by the Commission reveals the INtolerance of the flag's opponents while the plea for "diversity" seems to be very limited indeed. "Diversity" means EVERYONE, not just the favored ones. I guess somebody failed to tell that to the Hillsborough Commissioners.

nothing to do with race

Listen folks, for us Southerners, raising the Confederate flag is simply a way to honor American soldiers who defended their Florida homes against a hostile force. It has nothing to do with racism. We are sick and tired of our flag and our history being vilified. Ignorant people have banned the flag from all public places, but to ban it from privately owned property is going too far. We are not ashamed of our Confederate heritage, neither do we intend any "offense" to anyone else. We seek only to exercise the same rights as all other Americans.

NAACP has never worked WITH Southern heritage supp

County Commissioners are dreaming if they think the NAACP would ever agree to work WITH supporters of Southern heritage on any sort of issue to further the honoring of Confederate heroes, promoting the factual (as opposed to hysterics) of Confederate history, or anything else that would demonstrate cooperation. The NAACP has refused to even recognize the fact that, by some historic accounts, 50,000 to 60,000 black Southerners, both free and slave, served in the Confederate armed forces in such roles as infantrymen, cavalrymen, sailors, cooks, military construction workers, teamsters, etc. right alongside their white, Asian, Hispanic, and Jewish comrades, rather than in segregated units the way they were required to in the North. Although there is all sorts of photographic and written evidence of this, the NAACP has always denied these facts because it does not fit their bigoted version of history, and therefore failed to honor these valiant black Confederates. Since 1991 when the NAACP passed a national resolution calling the Confederate flag "..an odious blight on the universe..." and committing all its resources to the removal of all things honoring the Confederacy, it has been nothing but an agent for racial divisiveness. It has set up the Confederate flag as a "strawman" to attack anytime they need to raise money for their organization, which is hopelessly out-dated and essentially irrelevant since the end of the so-called Civil Rights Era. Michelle Williams' actions are an excellent display of the black racism promulgated by the NAACP and its race-baitering cohorts, by trying to stir up anti-white sentiment with displays of photos from the 1930s of lynched blacks. The photos she is using have nothing whatsoever to do with the Confederacy nor the battleflag under which Confederate soldiers fought from 1861-1865. Photos are readily available from the 1930s showing gigantic KKK rallies, and the only flag visible in the majority of the photos is the Stars and Stripes, which has been declared by the KKK since the 1930s to be its only "official flag." Google "KKK" and "official flag" and see what results you get. The NAACP has also threatened the Tampa Bay area with an economic boycott similar to the one they attempted in South Carolina several years ago when they were unable to get the State Legislature to knuckle-under to their demands regarding the Confederate flag. As a matter of fact, South Carolina enjoyed an INCREASE in tourism-related dollars during the time of the NAACP's boycott, which is still in effect. The NAACP's answer to everything is CONFRONTATION--not COOPERATION. Now that Southern heritage organizers have the attention of Central Floridians, perhaps they can use the attention to educate the public on the TRUE history of that period of America, because the lies being taught in public schools are based solely upon the Northern winners' version of what took place without any consideration whatsoever of the Southern version of the events. Bringing these facts to light will significantly change the dialogue on what the War Between The States was REALLY about. Just like most other wars, it was about economics and powerplays. Few Americans realize that the institution of slavery was still legal and being practiced in many areas of the North even when the war took place.

Spare Me

Are you kidding me? Anyone who tries to pose an intellectual argument that flying the Confederate flag is anything more than the conscious, or at best, unconscious desire to display their inner insecurity and hatred is obviously living in the most extreme bubble of ignorance. Symbols are powerful--and this symbol puts on audacious display an image closely tied to a concept that should be ANATHEMA to anyone who considers themselves a true American that holds the ideal of freedom above all others. Arguments of historical economics and whatnot are much less germaine than the reality of hurt this symbol causes to those among us whose ancestors were ENSLAVED. Any public tolerance of this most distateful display is highly questionable. I hope advocates of this have a big budget and a constant assembly line pumping these things out, because as they go up, they will go down.

Thank you!

Valerie Protopapas James Taylor DixieCol, I agree with your comments 100%. Thank you to the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate Veterans for honoring our loved ones that should always be remembered, never forgotten.

The problem is

There are some people that have good intentions with the flag, and many with evil intent. There are some who realize that even if slavery was one facet, it was a fatal one, and some who would use terms like "so-called civil rights." You cannot deny that before MLK, Jim Crow laws denied Blacks rights that are easily taken for granted. Those laws came down only after MLK formed a non violent resistance, which is a better ending than the this story usually gets. Granted, some people do demonize the south, and some simply refuse to see that the folks in Gray were people in over their head like most soldiers are, trying to do the best they can given the world going mad. But if you want others to respect the suffering your ancestors went through, you cannot ignore the suffering of others.

Raise Florida's Flag

To me, raising that flag represents treason. In my opinion anyone displaying that flag should be jailed. If "southern" people want to look at the confederate flag to remember their fallen ancestors that's fine. Hopefully every time they look at the American flag they imagine their ancestors dieing at a person's hands who was fighting for the liberation and freedom of ALL men. That's kind of what I imagine when I look at the confederate flag, except in reverse. I get this feeling that some stupid, lazy, hillbilly, redneck was killing other Americans so he could own slaves. The ONLY thing the Civil War changed in the southern man's way of life was the fact HE had to earn his way through it. Seeing the confederate flag just represents a way of life that's unlawful in my country. It would be no different if pedophiles and rapists made a flag and displayed it. They Have the right to do it, But it's a despicable thought to even think about. So Mr James Taylor, and the rest of you "southerners", if you DO actually want to remember your dead relatives protecting their Floridian homes, please, please just fly our state flag. But I honestly doubt that's what you're trying to do.


The Flag's been up for three years, and the dire predictions have never panned out. The Super Bowl and Republican Convention are just fine with the Flag. Tampa has gotten good publicity for its diversity. The naysayers and Confederophobes are just jealous of the Flag's success.Those who tried to deny the civil rights of those flying it should be ashamed, and I note that Rose Ferlita and Curtis Stokes have been voted out of office.

Update: Commissioner Kevin White is now in jail. Michelle Williams is now with the New Black Panther Party. So much for the Confederophobes.Meanwhile, the world's largest Third National Confederate flag just joined the Confederate Battle Flag at the Tampa Site.