The Confederate Flag will be flying once again in Florida. Marion County officials voted unanimously to put the Stars and Bars back on a pole after citizens in the Florida county protested its removal. After a vote was taken, the flag was raised back in its spot over the Fallen Officers Memorial on Southeast 25th Street in Ocala, Fla.
Marion County officials voted to remove the Confederate Flag from public property almost two weeks ago amid fears of backlash if the Civil War-era flag remained in place. After Dylann Roof shot black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., the flag was removed from public buildings, store shelves, and yanked from view on TV Land when the Dukes of Hazzard was pulled from the air.
Outraged Marion County citizens lobbied their elected officials to put the Confederate Flag banner back in its place. On Tuesday, the commissioners in the Florida county opted to overrule the decision previously made by board chair, Stan McClain, and hoist the flag once more.
“We are all exposed to messages and symbols that may not connect for us, but we should all honor our ancestors and protect free expression,” Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) said during a meeting held to discuss the fate of the flag, according to WKMG.
Marion County resident Buddy Proctor applauded the reversal of the Confederate Flag decision.
“It should be put back. It’s a Southern flag,” Proctor said.
Interim Marion County Administrator Bill Kaufman and Stan McClain decided to remove the Confederate Flag at the end of June after South Carolina started discussing its laws surrounding the flag at its government centers, WKMG reports.
McClain plans to ask the Marion County Historical Society for assistance in creating markers to explain the historical significance of each flag flying over the Ocala area.
“It’s a passionate issue on two sides,” McClain said. “What we are trying to do is interpret the historical relevance of this display we have. It’s either take the whole thing down, or try to use it as a historical tool from a historical perspective.”
“I don’t see racism in the symbol of the Confederate Flag,’ fellow resident Debbie Rotstein, said. “I see it was part of the Civil War, and it was part of our history.”
The Confederate Flag is one of five national flags which have flown over Florida the first explorers landed on the peninsula over 500 years ago. The other flags which fly over the Sunshine State include the American Flag, Spanish Flag, and British Flag.
“We live in America, and last time I checked it was a democracy. So, here in Marion County, which has what 300,000 people, how can one man decide to take it off a flagpole,” Florida Southern Pride Ride member David Stone told News 13.
When the Confederate Flag was missing from its pole, a flag with the Marion County emblem flew in its place.