In a sea of red, white, and blue, one aspect of Redmond’s Fourth of July parade left some people shocked and confused.
Adam Duquette, who lives in Redmond, attended the celebration with his family when he noticed a float featuring a man dressed in a Confederate uniform, and waving the Confederate flag.
“I couldn’t believe it. Here we are at the Fourth of July parade, celebrating the Independence Day of America, and somebody’s flying the flag of the Civil War,” he said.
He said it was especially disappointing because his family was visiting for the weekend, and they had been excited to see what life in Redmond was really like.
“One is an army veteran, and another is 35 years retired from the Army Corps,” he said. “You can imagine their reaction to seeing the Confederate flag flown right in front of their face.”
The float was run by Scott Stuart of the People’s Rights organization, which was started by conservative activist Ammon Bundy in early 2020.
The group’s website says they promote “uniting neighbors to defend their families, faith, freedom and future.”
Duquette wasn’t the only one with a strong reaction to the symbol.
The photo prompted more than 800 comments on the Central Oregon Daily News Facebook page.
Annie Frances said in a Facebook comment, “I’m appalled the chamber would support it and surprised honestly.”
Others viewed it differently, like Perry White, who commented, “Confederate battle flag is not racist. It stands for freedom, liberty, state’s rights.”
The Redmond Chamber of Commerce organized the parade, and put out guidelines stating that it was an “a-political event” and requested that “no political flags be promoted.”
The chamber’s Executive Director Eric Sande said he believed the float would fall within the guidelines.
He said there wasn’t an approval process, other than to ask participants to follow the rules.
“I think everyone really wanted to celebrate the Fourth of July and our independence and that was really our goal,” he said. “My understanding was that the float in question would be a Civil War depictment, and so it had the Confederate flag. So I think that’s where our issues are coming up.”
Sande also said it was more of a parade within a parade, as the People’s Rights group wanted to combine their own parade with the one put on by the chamber.
“For safety of people, and using our barricades and having a traditional parade down Sixth Street,” he said.
The Chamber’s former Events Coordinator Kara Roatch said there had been concerns over the display as the parade was being planned.
She said the name of the entry had initially indicated a celebration of Confederate history but was changed to “Civil War History Float.”
The People’s Rights group entered 15 to 20 floats in the parade, with one of them winning an award in the animal category.
“There were just some great entries and floats and a lot of patriotism being displayed, and unfortunately we had one that caused extreme tension, but we’re going to work on that and make sure it’s enjoyable for everybody,” Sande said.
“I respect all people’s points of view, and understandings of where this is coming from,” he continued, “There’s a lot of moving parts to this parade, and it was the first one back after being shut down after the COVID year, and we’ll continue to work to make it an enjoyable parade for everybody.”
When asked for a comment, representatives from the People’s Rights organization sent a statement.
“Mr. Stuart’s float was designed to express the notion that United we stand, and divided we fall. Our American history shows this to be true. The discussion about this flag just goes to substantiate that statement.
“The simple fact is, no matter which side of political spectrum you sit, history is history and it can not be changed. That flag is a part of American history, for better or for worse, and our feelings on the issue can not change that fact.
“The American civil war was a travesty. All war is a travesty. We all should strive to learn from lessons and mistakes of the past so that they are less likely to repeat.”
Duquette says he’ll be calling on the City Council and the mayor to say something in response.
“This was their parade, this wasn’t some third party or private organization. That doesn’t represent the city that I live in. That doesn’t represent the America that I live in,” he said.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott would not comment on the situation on Monday, saying the event was run by the Chamber and not by the City.
When pressed on Tuesday, the mayor told Central Oregon Daily News he was “sympathetic to all those who feel hurt when they saw it.”
“If the Confederate flag is considered a symbol of hate, I am absolutely against it,” he said. “If it is not, it is protected by the first amendment and I will always defend the constitution.”