This Florida County Took Down Its Confederate Flag — And Then Put It Right Back Up

This Florida County Took Down Its Confederate Flag — And Then Put It Right Back Up

Officials in Marion County, Florida, voted to raise the Confederate battle flag above the grounds of the county government complex on Tuesday. 

The county commissioners' unanimous decision reverses a previous decision by the same body on Thursday that took the flag down and replaced it with one flying the considerably less controversial seal of Marion County, local News13 reported

The Confederate flag in Marion is part of a larger display showing all the flags the state of Florida has flown throughout its history, including the Spanish, French, English and U.S.

In a statement to Mic, the commission justified their actions, saying the flags served a useful historical purpose: 

"The commission voted unanimously to restore the flag to the historical display today. The commission also discussed how to best display all of the flags in their proper historical context. To this end, they gave consensus for staff to work with the Marion County Historical Commission to determine opportunities for historical interpretation of the display, as well as other history markers on the McPherson complex. This will help identify opportunities for connectivity and education about local history within the complex grounds."

Marion commissioners were unavailable for further comment Wednesday morning. 

The commissioners' historically minded move is a curious one in light of a wave of initiatives in recent weeks to expunge the flag from all areas of public life. Perhaps most notably, South Carolina now stands on the verge of removing the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds, where it has flown in one form or another since 1961. After a racially motivated massacre that left nine dead in a historically black Charleston church, the state senate voted 37-3 Monday to remove the flag and move it to a museum. The Statehouse is expected to follow suit in a vote this week.  

Nationally, Southern lawmakers have also seen the writing on the wall. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley quietly ordered a Confederate flag removed from the Statehouse grounds to head off potential protests. In Mississippi, which still uses a Confederate emblem on its state flag, Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn called for a reevaluation, saying, "We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us," the Associated Press reported.  

In the meantime, Marion County will likely continue to decide whether its the completeness of its historical display outweighs the racist history of prejudice and slavery embedded within the Confederate flag.