Redmond resident Cara Frank said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw a large Confederate flag billowing in the wind as the Redmond Fourth of July parade went past her home Sunday.
The flag was held by a man in a Confederate general’s uniform. Beside him stood two men in union garb — a soldier and a scout — holding a Union flag (34 stars) and a Betsy Ross flag (10 stars). A sign on the side of the float read: “The Constitution is NOT negotiable.” On the back, another read: “Together we stand, divided we fall.”
“I’m angry and struggling to understand this,” Frank wrote in an email to members of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, who organized the event. “I’m stunned this wasn’t immediately denounced. White supremacy had its stamp on the 4th of July parade today.”
Frank wasn’t alone in her frustration. Many residents took to social media to voice their anger. Others defended the use of the flag.
“Not sure why Redmond’s Fourth of July Parade would feature the war flag of confederates who tried to secede from the United States of America,” said Redmond resident Larry Cole in an email.
The flag was flown by Scott Stuart of the People’s Rights organization, a conservative group founded by activist Ammon Bundy in 2020 that advocates for community members uniting with their neighbors to defend their rights, according to the group’s website. The group has chapters nationwide.
Stuart, a Redmond resident, did not want to provide his age or profession.
Frank said use of the Confederate flag violated the Redmond Chamber of Commerce’s rule against using political flags at the event.
“This is a real problem that needs to be addressed,” she said. “I expect to see these groups banned from future participation.”
Stuart said the group’s use of the flag was misunderstood.
“My float was a civil war history float,” he said. “My relative is Jeb Stuart, a cavalry general in the army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee. I teach a class about the battle of Gettysburg, and I teach it to the people at People’s Rights. It’s living history.”
Stuart said he regularly teaches his class — called “Taking the High Ground” — at public and private schools, as well as other educational institutions.
“It’s a six part series, and it’s very well received from those that I’ve gone into to do this with. Mostly grade schools — eighth graders,” he said. “In part five of that class, we break down Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The nutshell or the message is centered around the focus that children won’t be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Stuart said King’s message has been “turned upside down” by “the leftists, the progressives, the communists, the anarchists, the BLM movement, whatever you want to call them,” because those groups promote racism to their benefit.
“It’s division. It divides the masses. Our message was: join together, because united we stand, divided we fall,” he said.
BJ Soper, a conservative activist and a spokesman for People’s Rights Oregon, concurred with Stuart, providing this statement:
“Mr. Stuart’s float was designed to express the notion that United we stand, and divided we fall. Our American history shows this to be true. The discussion about this flag just goes to substantiate that statement. The simple fact is, no matter which side of the political spectrum you sit, history is history and it cannot be changed. That flag is a part of American history, for better or for worse, and our feelings on the issue can not change that fact. The American civil war was a travesty. All war is a travesty. We all should strive to learn from lessons and mistakes of the past so that they are less likely to repeat.”
Eric Sande, executive director of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, said use of the flag at the parade was not intended to be political, and that event organizers were unaware that the flag would be used as there was no approval process for floats. Participants were only asked to follow the rules.
“The Fourth of July parade had a very large turnout, which included the People’s Rights group,” Sande wrote in an email. “The float in question was a depiction of the U.S. Civil War with both Union and Confederate soldiers and the U.S. and Confederate flags. I have talked with the float entry, who is a U.S. Civil War historian and he confirmed that the float was not making a political statement with the flag. We respect the sensitivity of this issue and will continue to work to our goal of providing a safe and enjoyable parade for everyone.”
Frank said that the violation went beyond use of the flag: People’s Rights members passed out pamphlets to the audience, and one of the group’s floats won an award. She chastised the Redmond Chamber of Commerce “for enabling hate.”
“You cannot filter out the racism in that flag and leave what’s pure and historical in the flag because that purity doesn’t exist,” she said. “White supremacy works off a ‘trickle down’ strategy, the trend flowing in the parade trickles down to the audience. Pamphlets were being handed out to children.”
Stuart stood by his argument that the flag is a part of history that needs to be grappled with, and that its use was a-political.
“Any time you use flags or banners, they elicit emotions,” he said.