TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The city’s mayor and a newly elected councilwoman are calling for the removal of Confederate flags from the annual Tucson Rodeo Parade.
Mayor Regina Romero said in a prepared statement that the Confederate flag “has no place in the rodeo parade or elsewhere in our community.”
Romero, who is Tucson’s first Latina mayor, was sworn in last December as the first woman to lead the city of about 600,000.
“The Rodeo Parade is a long-standing Tucson tradition and an event that I’ve enjoyed bringing my family to. That’s why I was surprised to discover that the Confederate flag has been displayed alongside our state and nation’s flags at the forefront of the parade,” Romero said. “I will be respectfully requesting that the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee remove it from all future parades and instead recognize the history of our city’s heritage by including the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui flags, with their respective nations’ consent.”
Lane Santa Cruz, a Democrat elected to Romero’s city council seat representing Tucson’s west side, is asking the city to stop investing in the parade as long as the Confederate flag is displayed in the procession.
She submitted an editorial to an Arizona Daily Star reporter and the newspaper’s editorial section after the Feb. 23 parade.
The event dates back to 1925 and is largest nonmotorized parade in the United States and part of the annual La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros.
Santa Cruz wrote that the city council received multiple calls from upset residents “who were demanding to know why we would allow Confederate flags to fly during the parade,” a flag they called a “symbol of slavery, oppression and white supremacy.”
Rather than promote inclusivity, Santa Cruz said the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee has “fed into Confederate revisionism, which is the narrative that the Civil War was about state rights, not about slavery; that the Confederate cause was just and heroic.”
Santa Cruz said that until the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee takes corrective action, she will continue to refuse to participate.
Confederate flags have for years flown at historical sites around Tucson, including the parade, which officials called an “annual celebration of the Western Heritage of Tucson and Southern Arizona.”
Curtis E. Tipton, a representative of the Sierra Vista-based chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Santa Cruz’s argument is “same old, same old,” clarifying that the group has been in the parade for 25 years.
“We fight this battle constantly with the politically correct and perpetually offended,” he said. “The city doesn’t run the parade anyway. If she doesn’t want to go to the parade, that’s fine.”