Local News

Oct 16, 2013 5:54 PM by Janine Reyes

6 Investigates: Confederate Flag Ban In Bee County Unclear

BEE COUNTY -- Bee County Commissioners voted last month to keep the Confederate flag out of Western Week celebrations, which kick off tomorrow. But there's been some confusion over exactly what the commissioners passed and how it will impact the events at the Bee County Expo.

It took about a half dozen calls, but 6 Investigates did finally get a copy of the contract. It sets the terms for leasing the Bee County Exposition Center and it's been amended to keep out the Confederate flag.

"To me, to a lot of people, it's a symbol of racism," said Bee County Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez as he explained what led to his motion to create the ban.

Those who display it say it's in honor of Confederate soldiers and Southern pride. "It's about state's rights, its about state rights over national rights," said Lucy, who opposes the ban.

Some even see it as a way to remember loved ones, but not everyone does.

"They really felt offended because of the hoisting of the Confederate flag and then the gun show they had afterwards," explained Rodriguez as he described a call from his constituent that began his interest in seeking the ban.

It led to "Clause O" in the county's leasing facilities terms and conditions. It says management can "reject any offensive language or displays including the Confederate flag." The clause goes on to explain that "flags, banners, posters, signs, etc... will not be permitted to be displayed" on the expo grounds.

On Monday, attorney Kirk Lyons sent a letter to the Bee County Attorney, calling Clause O. "unconstitutional." He says if the Confederate flag is banned by the lease, the Western Week committee becomes "state actors" and they don't have that authority. He also included a lot of case law to back it up.

That's when he says what the lease says and what the county meant all changed.

Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez clarified the clause, saying they area not banning all Confederate flags. "By that we meant the flag pole," he said.

According to an email the Bee County Expo Center sent to 6 Investigates, County Judge David Silva wanted clarifications to the ban too. The email states that "the ban does not include personal clothing, BBQ pits, RV trailers, vehicles, etc."

It's that part of the ban that hit home for those who plan to protest. "They said no participants, including cook off teams could put the Confederate flag on their pit site," Lucy said. It appears now, that may be allowed.

There is still a protest planned for this weekend. It does not look like the wording in this agreement will be changed before Western Week, but according to the email we got from the facilities coordinator the enforcement will change.

The attorney who sent this letter to Bee County officials says he may pursue legal action to change the clause after Western Week.

To read the letter sent by the Southern Legal Resource Center - click here


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