(Update: adding video, comments from People's Rights of Oregon, Redmond Chamber official, Redmond residents)
'It definitely caused an issue with the community. Therefore, it needs to be addressed,' Redmond Chamber official says
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- About 100 floats rolled through downtown Redmond on Sunday during the city's Fourth of July parade, back after a year off due to the pandemic. However, some people's image of the event has been tainted by a single float from People's Rights of Oregon, which depicted the U.S. Civil War -- and included a Confederate flag at the front.
And that's led to a change in parade organizers' plans for future events.
People's Rights is a conservative political activist group with several chapters across the state, including in Redmond. The group had several floats in Sunday's parade, which is put on by the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, most of which were not problematic.
But it only took that one float to overshadow the rest.
"It definitely caused an issue with the community," Redmond Chamber Executive Director Eric Sande told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday. "Therefore, it needs to be addressed."
Some residents were outraged when they saw the float.
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told NewsChannel 21, "That's not okay. That's not acceptable. That's a symbol of hate. That's a symbol of racism. For that to be openly out there in front of children on the sidewalk and family members and just waving like it's another day, it's just unacceptable."
Others saw no issue with it at all, including Craig Callaway, who said, “The so-called ‘woke community’ should not try to cancel history, and that's what's going on here. These folks are trying to cancel history."
The Redmond Chamber of Commerce organized the parade, and does have a loose set of guidelines that try to keep politics out of the event.
However, People’s Rights of Oregon said this was not a political statement - rather, it was a historical demonstration. They provided this statement online, which says, in part:
"We stand firm on the statement, ‘those that do not know their history are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past.’ The confederate flag is a part of our American history. History cannot be changed, for the better or the worse. While we understand many see this flag as a symbol of racism, just as many see the flag as a representation of a time in history where more than racism and slavery were in question."
Eric Sande, executive director of the Redmond Chamber, said he spoke with the person who was in charge of the float, Scott Stuart, and learned he is a Civil War historian. The float was intended to depict the U.S. Civil War, with Union and Confederate soldiers, to go along with the U.S. and Confederate flags.
The Chamber of Commerce has not reviewed float entries before the parade in the past, or this year. However, Sande said, had they known, they wouldn't have allowed the flag to be there.
"If it was an individual just walking with a Confederate flag, then that's – again, none of it makes it acceptable, but we just need to address it as it comes up and try to prevent it from happening again,” he said.
Moving forward, though, Sande said the Chamber of Commerce will do things differently and will review each float to make sure it's as appropriate as possible, within their legal rights.
People's Rights of Oregon did have several other floats in the parade, one of which took home a first-place prize.