COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Republican lawmakers in Ohio voted down a proposed amendment to ban the sale and display of Confederate memorabilia, including flags, at county fairs.
The vote by the Ohio House of Representatives took place early Friday morning and rejected the amendment by 56 to 34, along mostly party lines.
Rep. Juanita Brent, Democrat from Cleveland, introduced the amendment to House Bill 665. It would have prohibited the sale, display, possession or distribution of Confederate memorabilia at local and county fairs.
The amendment was previously rejected by Republicans on the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.
“We have to keep Ohio’s promise that everyone feels safe and secure within the United States, particularly within Ohio, and people are not going to feel safe seeing a Confederate flag every time they go to the county independent fair,” Brent said.
Confederate flags and memorabilia have been sold each year at the Lorain County Fair by vendor Russell Bissett, of West Virginia. The Lorain County Fair Board voted to allow the continued sale as a freedom of speech.
“I don’t understand why people don’t realize the Confederate flag is a battle flag,” Bissett told FOX 8 News last August. “That’s all it is.”
Others, including Brent, view the flag as an offensive symbol of racism and white supremacy.
“That’s not freedom of speech. There’s a difference between treason and freedom of speech. We need to promote our country, not people who are against our country. The confederacy was against the country,” Brent said.
Amid recent protests and unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Confederate flags and monuments have been removed throughout the country.
On Wednesday, NASCAR announced it’s banning the Confederate flag at events because its display, “Runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”
The Ohio State Fair banned the Confederate flag in 2015.