A group of activists plans to protest the Lorain County Fair after organizers of the event confirmed that they would allow certain vendors to sell the Confederate flag.
A group called the Fair-Minded Coalition has protested the sale of the flag in past years and plans to do the same this year when the fair kicks off Monday.
“We are not here to disrupt, but merely to remind the fair board that the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and it has no place at our Lorain County Fair,” Jeanine Donaldson, coordinator of the Fair-Minded Coalition, told The Morning Journal.
Donaldson and her allies are planning a “confronting hate” gathering near the fairgrounds during the second day of the event, which lasts from August 19-25. Sam Felton, a decorated Vietnam veteran and member of the Fair-Minded Coalition, issued a “call to action” asking locals to boycott the fair.
“And I’m calling on elected officials, because like me, they have taken an oath to defend the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” he added.
Like past years, the Fair-Minded Coalition and its supporters have erected billboards in Lorain County in protest of the flag. According to The Cleveland Scene, four billboards were paid for with funds from the Lorain YWCA, which has Donaldson as its executive director.
“Keep your pledge! Say no to the Confederate flag at the Lorain County Fair,” previous versions of the billboards have stated.
But Lorain Fair Board President Ron Pickworth sees the matter as a free speech issue.
“We still believe in freedom of speech. I’m sorry this issue keeps coming up,” he told the Chronicle-Telegram.
“If you go through everything people find objectionable pretty soon you have nothing,” he added, citing as an example one vendor who sells Pittsburgh Steelers shirts.
Russell Bissett, a vendor whose stand sold Confederate flags last year, said he doesn’t “see anything wrong with selling them.”
“You have a choice, you don’t have to buy it if you don’t want it. If you want it, you can buy it,” he said.
But Donaldson maintains that the Confederate flag “does not represent the values of the people of Lorain County.”
“I think over time we are going to change hearts and minds,” she added.
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