Amidst heightened controversy over the flying of the Confederate flag after last month’s shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine dead, a Florida County voted to let the flag fly once again at its government complex.
Marion County commissioners voted unanimously for the measure on Tuesday.
Before the vote was cast, a flag with the seal of Marion County flew over the government complex. It temporarily replaced the Confederate flag last Thursday, when it was taken down.
Bill Kaufman, Marion County interim county administrator, and County Chairman Stan McClain were behind the measure to remove the Confederate flag from the government building after flying there for over twenty years.
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Marion County residents provided a mix of responses to Tuesday’s decision.
“I don’t see racism in the symbol of the Confederate flag,” said Debbie Rotstein to WKMG.
“I think it should be removed,” Monaco Benjamin said to News 13. “What value does it have to us now? That was years ago, and so many things have changed.”
“He [the county administrator] should be ashamed of himself, because he has caused a needless divide in this county that we did not have,” Wayne Bradley said.
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“We are all exposed to messages and symbols that may not connect for us, but we should all honor our ancestor and protect free expression,” Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) said to WKMG.
Commissioner McClain, taking heed to the new decision, said he plans on writing to Marion County’s Historical Society for help with placards to explain the historical context of the flag.
“What we are trying to do is interpret the historical relevance of this display we have,” he said. “It’s either take the whole thing down, or try to use it as a historical tool from a historical perspective.”
Tuesday’s decision comes at the same day a South Carolina bill to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds reached the state’s House of Representatives, according to CNN.