City officials call for removal of Confederate flag from Tucson Rodeo Parade

Updated: Mar. 4, 2020 at 10:43 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - To some, the Confederate flag represents hatred and oppression. To others, it’s a piece of history.

Officials with the Tucson Rodeo Parade, the largest non-motorized parade in the country, came under fire for allowing Confederate flags in the procession.

It’s not the first time the flag has been displayed in the Tucson Rodeo Parade, but newly-elected city officials hoping this year was its last.

“The times have changed and what these flags represent are a history of conquest,” Tucson Council Member Lane Santa Cruz said. “We shouldn’t be tolerating that hateful history that’s part of our past.”

Santa Cruz is calling on her colleagues to take a stand.

“And say ‘not in Tucson, not in 2020,’” Santa Cruz said. “I’m requesting that we not participate, and we not do any kind of investment until [the parade committee] revisits that policy.”

Santa Cruz wants to end in-kind contributions until the Confederate flag is no longer allowed, which includes providing bleachers and waiving Parks and Recreation fees.

“I think it was around a $10,000 of in-kind investment this year,” she said.

However, without the city’s help, Herb Wagner, the board secretary of the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee, said the annual event wouldn’t be possible.

“We have had a great relationship with the City of Tucson, in fact, we could not put on the parade without the assistance of the City of Tucson,” Wagner said.

Wagner said the Tucson Rodeo Parade does not endorse any social or political movements, adding it only seeks to showcase Tucson’s heritage.

“Part of that history is dealing with those who governed us at certain times,” he said.

Which is why the Confederate Battle Flag, which is red and has two blue stripes running through the middle encompassing 13 white stars, will no longer be allowed in the parade.

This flag, the Confederate battle flag, will not be allowed to fly in the annual Tucson Rodeo...
This flag, the Confederate battle flag, will not be allowed to fly in the annual Tucson Rodeo Parade. The flag is typically used and associated with white supremacist groups across the country.(Source: creative commons)

“That flag has been used by divisive groups like Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists as symbols, and that’s where people equate it to those issues of slavery and inequality,” Wagner said. “The Battle Flag of Northern Virginia was never the official flag of the Confederacy.”

Since Tucson was once governed by the Confederate States of America, Wagner said the Confederate state’s “official flag”, the one with two red stripes surrounding a white stripe with a blue box on the top left hand corner containing 13 white stars in a circle, will be permitted.

This version of the Confederate flag, which is different from the battle flag typically...
This version of the Confederate flag, which is different from the battle flag typically associated with white nationalist and racist groups, will be allowed in the Tucson Rodeo Parade since the city was once under Confederate control before it fell.(Source: creative commons)

“It was a tough time in our country’s history, we have gotten beyond that, but we can’t deny that history,” Wagner said.

Santa Cruz doesn’t believe any version of the Confederate flag should be displayed.

“When you allow a flag that resembles a history of slavery and oppression to fly, you’re standing behind that,” she said.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero is throwing her support behind Santa Cruz. She released the following statement:

"The Rodeo Parade is a long-standing Tucson tradition and an event that I’ve enjoyed bringing my family to. That’s why I was surprised to discover that the Confederate flag has been displayed alongside our state and nation’s flags at the forefront of the parade.

That flag, and its racist history of slavery and oppression of African Americans, has no place in the rodeo parade or elsewhere in our community. I will be respectfully requesting that the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee removes it from all future parades and instead recognize the history of our city's heritage by including the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui flags, with their respective nations’ consent.”

Right now, discussions are happening internally. There’s no word yet if this issue will be brought up at city council.

“We hope we can have face-to-face discussions with them if [removing the battle flag] does not satisfy their wishes,” Wagner said.

KOLD News 13 reached out to the Arizona Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, the parade entry displaying both the Battle Flag and Stars and Bars Flag.

They replied with the following statement:

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