County Commissioners Vote to Remove Confederate Flag
Escambia County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 that the Confederate Flag will no longer fly in Escambia County regardless of the actions taken by the City of Pensacola regarding the City of Five Flags display. The flag of the State of Florida will replace the confederate flag by a motion made by Commissioner Grover Robinson and seconded by Commissioner Wilson Robertson after over two hours of public comment from both sides of the issue. The flags that will fly at the Pensacola Bay Center will be the American, French, Spanish, British and Florida state flag. Last evening’s meeting was filled to an overflow crowd.
The reference to the City of Pensacola was made because in March the commission agreed to follow the lead of Pensacola because of the City of Five Flags display. This was the third presentation battle by both sides of the issue brought to the county government following the church murders in Charleston, South Carolina. All over the Southeastern United States there are legislative and community-based efforts seeking the removal of the Confederate Flag or stubborn support for it to continue to be flown.
There were many speakers for Confederate Flag being permanently removed. Some of those presenting included: City Councilman Gerald Wingate; Rev. HK Matthews, President for the National Movement of Civil and Human Rights, Eladies Sampson, President of the Pensacola Branch of the NAACP; Rev Lonnie Wesley, President of the Baptist Ministers Union; Jerry McIntosh, 2nd Vice President and Spokesperson of the Movement for Change; Dianne Krumel, President of the Democratic Women’s Club; Mike Lowery, Chairman if the Democratic Executive Committee; Ellison Bennett, National Board Member of the National Movement of Civil and Human Rights, Katrina Ramos and Keyontay Humphries of the “From Pensacola” organization.
It was the leadership of the “From Pensacola” organization that resulted in the first flag removal vote on December 11, 2014 in a 4 to 1 decision to only fly the American and Florida flags at county facilities. The “From Pensacola” organization which is a young and diverse community activist group, organized the December protest of the controversial practice of flying a Confederate battle flag at the Pensacola Bay Center through social media and word of mouth.
The decision on Tuesday evening was in sync with the commission’s March resolution. The commission vote on June 25th was a result of Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward’s order for all Confederate flags to be eliminated from city displays. The momentum this time was following the national outcry for Confederate flag removal after the Emmanuel AME nine were massacred in Charleston during their bible study. The commission followed the city in replacing the First National Flag with the state flag late last month, but waited until Commissioner Grover Robinson returned from travel for a final decision.
Commissioners Lumon May and Doug Underhill made comments desirous of going back to the county’s December arrangement and fly just the two flags, but Commission chairman Steven Barry advised consensus. The commissioners finally agreed to amend the March resolution so that the county would not follow the city, but instead the county would keep the flags as they were when the vote was taken previously.