The confederate battle flag at the Walton County Courthouse is now removed. Tuesday commissioners voted to replace the battle flag with the original confederate flag.
Walton County spokesperson Louis Svehla says there was a delay in getting the 13 star flag so the seven star flag is flying for now.
The vote followed hours of debate over the course of several meetings. The Panhandle Progress Coalition is responding to the move. The group says, “As pointed out by several local civil rights leaders and equal rights activists, the replacement is an affront towards efforts at creating a better community without the dogwhistle intimidation of a symbol of oppression flying over a publicly owned institution.”
News release from Panhandle Progress Coalition:
DEFUNIAK SPRINGS – Walton County Commissioners took a rare step in the right direction today, and voted to remove the “Southern Cross” Confederate flag from the Courthouse in Defuniak Springs, FL.
However, in an unprecedented move, the County Commission also voted to replace it with the original “Stars and Bars” flag of the Confederacy.
The Panhandle Progressive Coalition congratulates partners and allied organizations from across the nation who helped achieve the important milestone of having the Dixiecrat Segregationist Southern Cross Confederate flag removed. But, the fight is not over. As pointed out by several local civil rights leaders and equal rights activists, the replacement is an affront towards efforts at creating a better community without the dogwhistle intimidation of a symbol of oppression flying over a publicly owned institution.
One particular key point is that not a single person of color sits on the Walton County Commission.
Jeremy Ponds, Faith Based Director of the Panhandle Progressive Coalition, stated:
“As a native of the Florida Panhandle, and a modern nonviolent civil rights activist, I am deeply disturbed by today’s Commission vote to replace one Confederate flag with another. Several comments from today’s Commission meeting highlight the fact that still, in 2015, we are dealing with Jim Crow across the South; specifically in Walton County, FL.
“It perplexes my soul how any person could justifiably fall prey to the argument that any Confederate flag positively represents heritage, and should be displayed over a modern public institution, let alone an institution tasked with seeking justice.”
Aaron Wazlavek, Executive Director of the Panhandle Progressive Coalition, stated:
“What we saw in defense of the Confederate flag by way of comments and literature in Walton County was no less different than the recent defense by the Klu Klux Klan in regards to changing the name of a High School in Jacksonville, FL, from the former Grand Wizard of the KKK, Nathan B. Forrest, to Westside High School.
“One would think the Commissioners would be able to parse together recent recruitment efforts in the Florida Panhandle by the KKK, and the sudden uproar “defending” the Confederate flag. Unfortunately, what many consider a step in the right direction has been overshadowed by the kowtowing of the Commission to public outcries that amount to pretextual arguments in defense of a failed rebel insurrection.
“We will be actively organizing through the spirit of nonviolence in the community around these issues and others during the next electoral cycles of the Commission to educate our friends, families, and neighbors, and to hold these elected leaders accountable for their shameful actions today.”
Ray Guillory, political activist and prior Escambia County Commission Candidate for District 2, stated:
“Government should be inclusive, we all have different ideas about what it should do. We cannot put up a symbol that tells 30% of the people that we don’t care what they think or feel. The fact that the flag didn’t reappear in the South until desegregation tells you a lot about what people really think it means, and where these Commissioners think their votes come from.
“I am from the South, raised in the South, racism and discrimination are our shared heritage. I am not proud of it, and obviously neither are thousands of voters in Walton County. I want no part of it, and I do not want my government to celebrate it. I am proud to say in Escambia, we had the fortitude to take down our Confederate flag.”
In response to today’s charades by the Walton County Commission, the Panhandle Progressive Coalition has released the first in a series of combined media outreach lists, compiled specifically for the Florida Panhandle, with the goal of giving every group and individual that wishes to have access to that information the ability to be heard. It is available for download at no cost here: bit.ly/NoJimCrow
Additionally, the Panhandle Progressive Coalition is urging all interested members of the community to voice their concerns by contacting the Commissioners directly, via the details below:
William “Bill” Chapman (R), District 1 Commissioner
9446 Rock Hill Road
Ponce de Leon, FL 32455
Office (850) 835-4860
Cecilia Jones (R), District 2 Commissioner
552 Walton Road
DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433
Office (850) 892-4020
Bill Imfeld (R), District 3 Commissioner, Chair
6570 US Hwy 90 West
DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433
Office (850) 892-8474
Sara Comander (R), District 4 Commissioner, Vice Chair
263 Chaffin Avenue
DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433
Office (850) 835-4834
Cindy Meadows (R), District 5 Commissioner
70 Logan Lane
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Office (850) 231-2978