Those wanting to display it in the parking lot or at any booth can do so.
Their words though are different in the agreement approved for those wanting to use the Expo Center grounds.
“Bee County commissioners and/ or Expo Center management reserves the right to reject any offensive language or displays, including the Confederate flag, or other offensive flags, banners, posters, signs, etc., that it feels are inappropriate or offensive and will not (be) permitted to be displayed at any part of the Expo grounds during any and all events,” the new clause in the Expo Center rental agreement reads.
Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez, who voted in favor of the original ban and helped craft its wording, said after this week’s meeting, “I think that needs to be changed.”
“If individuals have it on their cars or at their stands — I am not saying that is appropriate — but I can live with it.”
Rodriguez, during this week’s meeting, also said, “We are not asking for a complete ban. In fact, we don’t need that flagpole in the back. I think we can just get rid of it.
“I respect the nonviolent side of the Confederate flag,” Rodriguez continued. “I respect the Confederate soldiers that fought under it.
“The nonviolent history of the Confederate flag is a good history.”
It’s the hate groups that give the flag a negative image, he said, citing one report that said more than 500 racist groups use it as their symbol.
“It is not the nonviolent history I am opposing. I support the soldiers that fought under this flag but not what it symbolizes now.”
Commissioner Carlos Salazar said during Monday’s meeting, “All this court meant... when we said we wanted to restrict the Confederacy battle flag is on our flagpole.
“If you have a stand out there... you can fly any flag you want to.”
Rodriguez, who also voted in favor of the ban, echoed Salazar’s comments during the meeting, saying, “The flag that was being objected to was a full size flag that was being raised on the flagpole. Not only was it being hoisted on the flagpole, but there was a gun show going along with it, and people were offended.”
Rodriguez commented Monday that the people placing flags on their cars or having smaller flags flying was fine.
However, during the Sept. 23 session, his words were different.
“The flying of the Confederate flag cannot be morally defended by anyone...
“The flag certainly has no place on Bee County property.”
All of this sparked some concern about the upcoming Western Week Celebration which, while it has nothing to do with the issue at hand, could have become a political battleground.
Reagan Scott, who is helping organize Western Week and the barbecue cook-off for the Bee County Area Go Texan group, said during the September meeting that he was fearful that the court’s action could have a negative effect on the celebration.
“Our main concern is there is going to be a political backlash at our event based on the Confederate flag or lack thereof, of its beliefs or not.
“What we don’t want to do is hamper our organization or this event.”
Rodriguez, also during that September meeting, said that he would accept the political backlash.
“If there is a political backlash, that is fine,” he said then. “I would rather have that than a human backlash.
“By us voting to allow this flag, or those voting to on this board, it is going to represent you as a racist.”
This Monday, however, he said that he had hoped the banning of the Confederate flag would have brought the community together.
“I think I was trying to unite, in my own way, not divide the community,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, like other commissioners, said that he has heard from people concerned about the county’s stance.
“I have had friends on both sides of the issue,” he said.
“I think what I was seeing is they were concerned that we were taking away their First Amendment rights.”
Interestingly, the whole issue was actually a moot point as the group who did the display that sparked the discussion had agreed not to do it this year — before commissioners even began discussing the issue during that September meeting.
Scott said, “I know that organization, and I asked them to make a concession, and they agreed to do things differently.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.