Confederate Flag raised again in Tampa

04/27/09 Mitch E. Perry
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On Saturday in Tampa, omore than 1,000 people attended the raising of one of the largest Confederate flags in the world.

Confederate Memorial Park is on U.S. 92, south of the intersection of Interstates 75 and 4; it made headlines initially last June when the Sons of Confederate Veterans raised a 30-by-50-foot Confederate Flag there. Then in October, the group then raised a 30-by-60-foot flag.

Despite initial criticism from some quarters, particularly in the black community, organizer Marion Lampert says there’s actually been little controversy about the unveiling of the flag. There were no demonstrators at the unveiling.

The actual piece of property Lambert originally purchased back in 2004 and where the flag has been erected is less than a quarter acre. But on Saturday, hundreds gathered across the street.

Saturday’s commemoration was an all day party, with refreshments served, live musicians performing, and Confederate re-enactors.

One re-enactor was St. Petersburg resident Doug Rubel, who has performed in similar events throughout the state. He said he was aware of how the flag does bring pain to people, especially blacks, who see it as a symbol of the system that enslaved them before the Civil War.

Marko Sumney lives in Sarasota said he was at the event to celebrate Southern Heritage. He acknowledges that some people have misused the flag for the "wrong reasons," but he says that any anger directed toward it is due to a lack of information.

John Adams is the co-chairman of the Confederate Veterans' Flags Across Florida project. He said the Flag has become a political football, but shouldn’t be controversial. Adams said the flag has become a universal symbol of resistance to repression; they’ve been seen flying on tanks in Iraq and Afghanistan, in World War II. And he denied that the black community has problems with the Confederate Flag.

WMNF could only locate one African-American man at the event.

In 2004, flags were removed from Hillsborough County sign regulations, making what Marion Lambert has done completely legal. In an effort to find common ground, Commissioners asked Lambert last year if he would allow for a flag of the United States to be located next to the Confederate Flag. Lambert refused.

In addition to the dozens of Confederate re-enactors, there were also dozens of women dressed in antebellum-style dresses.

WMNF attempted to speak with the leader of the Hillsborough County chapter of the NAACP, Curtis Stokes today. He was unavailable for comment.

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