Ohio House Democrats unsuccessfully attempted last week to ban the sale, display, possession, or distribution of Confederate flags at county and independent fairs.
During a Thursday night debate on House Bill 665, a bill related to agricultural societies and public safety, Democrats introduced two amendments in an effort to crack down on Confederate memorabilia.
The first would have prohibited the sale, display, possession or distribution of Confederate memorabilia at county and independent fairs, while the second would have cut state funding from fairs that allow the sale of Confederate merchandise. Both amendments were tabled by Republican lawmakers, according to a press release from House Democrats.
“The Confederate flag is a banner of white supremacy and a reminder of our nation’s original sin of slavery,” said Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), the ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee and sponsor of both amendments.
“That Republicans in the Ohio House cannot bring themselves to vote to condemn and prohibit these displays of white supremacy and outright racism at our local and county exhibitions – the places where we go to celebrate the best of Ohio – is a real shame, and a black eye on this institution. If you don’t stand up to white supremacists, you stand with them,” she added.
The Ohio State Fair instituted a rule in 2015 banning the sale of Confederate merchandise. The U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, and NASCAR have taken similar steps in recent days.
“Ohio was a part of the Union. The failure to oppose a symbol of treason is absurd,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) said in a statement.
“The symbolism that the Confederate flag represents is racism and oppression of Black and indigenous people,” she continued. “The Republican-led legislature should not be using taxpayer funds to promote hate and treason. Ohioans deserve better. The fact that Republicans are unwilling to listen to the diverse voices of Ohioans requesting to respect Black lives goes to show the disconnect between what the people want, and what the Republican-led legislature is willing to do.”
Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) said the Confederate flag is used as “a tool to instill terror in minority populations.”
“I represent an urban district, but my roots are rural. I understand that fairs are the fabric of our community,” added Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “I believe the Confederate flag is a symbol that glorifies white supremacy, slavery and treason.”
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