UPDATE: Hundreds Of E-mails Protest Winning Float With Confederate Flag

Jul 9, 2012

A major controversy has developed over the winning float in the Las Cruces Electric Light Parade.  At the July third parade, The Las Cruces TEA Party float won best in show, along with a one thousand dollar prize.  The float included a confederate flag and that prompted outage among some, including Mayor Ken Miyagishima, who called it an “outage” and vowed it would never happen again.  Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Thomas released a statement saying she would ask for the issue to be discussed at the next city council meeting on July 16th.  She also said she has received nearly 400 emails asking the city to withdraw the one thousand dollar award to the Las Cruces TEA Party and invest the money in a quote “positive program to celebrate our diversity - not our divisions.”

For its part, the Las Cruces TEA Party released a statement saying the Confederate flag is part of New Mexico’s history, pointing to the New Mexico genealogical website which states that in 1862, a scouting party of southern troops entered the evacuated New Mexico capitol, and for more than two weeks, the Confederate flag flew over the ancient Palace of the Governors.  The statement says quote, “We were historically correct and went to great lengths to get some of the flags we flew, such as the first New Mexico flag…”

Another city official is speaking out on the issue.  Second district council member Greg Smith released a statement saying quote, “It is not the role of the Council to micromanage how judges make their choices, particularly not after the fact.”  Smith adds he would NOT have made the same choice in giving the TEA Party float an award.  Smith says, quote, “Awards in the future should be given only to nonpolitical and nonreligious floats because the City cannot give the impression that it endorses any political candidates or parties or any religious beliefs or organizations."  He also says, quote, “Guidelines regarding community standards should be published and distributed to groups before they determine if they plan to participate, and those guidelines must be enforced when floats show up for staging before the parade.”

If guidelines are developed in the future, it’s unclear how the city could prevent a similar situation from happening again.  As for the Confederate flag in the award-winning TEA Party float, the managing editor of the Las Cruces Sun News, Walter Rubel, had this to say in a Sunday column, quote, “All symbols make a statement. The Confederate Flag stands for slavery, for white supremacy and for a history of inhumanity and brutality. It has no place in a celebration of our nation's founding.”