Three Redmond city councilors denounced the use of a Confederate flag during the city’s recent Fourth of July parade.
“The Fourth of July celebration in Redmond was tarnished by this hate symbol being exhibited, and there is no logical way to explain away why this was allowed,” Clifford Evelyn told his fellow councilors during their meeting Wednesday. “This is a disgrace and embarrassing to not only the city of Redmond, but a reflection of our council as well, and this is unacceptable.”
The parade, hosted by the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, included a float depicting the U.S. Civil War. U.S. and Confederate flags were flown and people dressed as union and confederate soldiers.
The Confederate flag was flown by Scott Stuart of the People’s Rights organization, a national conservative group founded by activist Ammon Bundy in 2020.
Bundy is known for leading an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 to protest the federal control of public lands.
Stuart, a Redmond resident, has said he flew the flag because it was part of a history float and that he was related to Jeb Stuart, a cavalry general in the army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“Just because we don’t agree with something, it doesn’t mean it should be banned or burned like books and things like that,” Stuart told The Bulletin Thursday. “It’s history. It happened. It wasn’t always good history, and we’ve learned from our mistakes.”
Evelyn said the historical context of the Confederate flag makes it impossible to embrace without explicitly or implicitly promoting racism.
“When people say heritage not hate, they are omitting the obvious, which is that that very heritage is hate,” Evelyn said. “When someone says it’s about history, that particular history is inseparable from hate, because it is about hate. It’s about racism, and it’s about slavery.”
Evelyn called for the City Council to take a tougher stance.
“This is not a black or white issue.This is a human rights issue, and it is our job to ensure that our citizens are able to live and work in a safe environment,” he said.
Councilor Jon Bullock said the historical context of the flag is critically important in understanding how it is linked to slavery and the perpetuation of slavery. He encouraged the chamber to change its parade requirements for float entries.
“I do find that flag abhorrent, and I do not appreciate seeing it in our city,” Bullock said. “I don’t think it represents us. I know it doesn’t represent me, and it doesn’t represent Redmond.”
Councilor Ed Fitch said he met with the chamber’s board earlier in the week and there was a spirited discussion about the parade and the flag. He said he supports the chamber changing its parade requirements and the city helping in any way it can.
“For these parades, which are family oriented and community oriented, I do agree that there should be an ability to ensure that those types of symbols are not allowed,” Fitch said. “I love history. I am a Civil War historian buff, but it’s history, and it’s to be remembered, not honored.”
Eric Sande, the executive director of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is working with legal counsel to learn what it can restrict as a parade host.
“And then we’ll create guidelines that follow those rules and try to do what we can to ensure that we have safe and enjoyable parades in the future,” he said.
The city received more than a dozen public comments for the meeting on Wednesday condemning the appearance of the Confederate flag.
Mayor George Endicott stayed silent on the topic during the meeting.
When questioned by The Bulletin afterward, the mayor said he does not disagree with what the other councilors said. However, he said he does not know where to draw the line. He asked whether a Black Lives Matter flag should be prohibited if a Confederate flag is going to be prohibited.
“I shake my head,” Endicott said. “Some people have very, very strong feelings one way or the other to the point that they’re almost radical about it. And that’s OK if that’s the one they want to do.”