Residents objected to the presence of a Confederate symbol at a Santa Clarita Valley GOP-organized Fourth of July car parade during Tuesday’s Santa Clarita City Council meeting.
The symbol — half of a Confederate flag — was part of a “triple threat flag,” which also includes half of the American flag and a Gadsden “don’t tread on me” snake in the center.
The flag was flown on a truck that was part of the parade, though people at the parade who spoke Tuesday night said the flag went up after the parade had already started and its use had not been authorized by organizers of the event.
Ron Jones, who said he was the volunteer photographer for the event, told council members that he took a picture of every car in the parade in the staging area.
“It’s my opinion that somewhere between the staging area and Main Street (in Newhall), the flag went up,” said Jones, noting he was shocked by the flag’s presence but did not think it should tarnish what was otherwise a positive event. “I don’t personally agree with the flag, but … that parade was a bright spot in our community. It uplifted my whole family.”
Valerie Bradford, president of the Santa Clarita branch of the NAACP, asked the City Council — specifically calling out Councilman Jason Gibbs, who was at the parade — to condemn the presence of the “triple threat flag.”
“The Confederate flag should be offensive to every single American because it is a reflection of a time period when traitors rose up against the rest of the United States in battle, all in an effort to keep my ancestors enslaved,” she said. “This flag is the ultimate insult to Black Americans and Black voters here in Santa Clarita.”
At City Hall, Bradford was surrounded by supporters, including Barbara White, an executive member of the NAACP and a member of BlackSCV, who told Gibbs she plans on holding him accountable.
“Whether I voted for you or not, I have (an) expectation (that you represent me in this community),” she said. “I do not hold you personally responsible … for the abhorrent racist display, but will continue to hold your hands to the fire to condemn it each and every time you see it.”
Sharlene Duzick, chairwoman of the Republican Party of the 38th Assembly District, which organized the parade, called for mutual respect among community members.
“Condemning a symbol is not going to change the world. What’s going to change the world is having us all in different sides of the spectrum come together to have dialogue,” she said. “We don’t even know who that person was. We don’t know if they showed up to cause destruction and divide in this community.”
Denise Lite said she was “deeply disturbed” by a group targeting Gibbs in an Instagram post.
“The members of this City Council cannot control what a member of the public chooses to do on his personal truck. That’s an impossibility,” Lite said. “I would urge Mr. Gibbs to resist the pressure to apologize as you did nothing wrong.”
Gibbs responded to the calls to condemn the presence of the “triple threat flag” after the public participation session ended.
He said he did not previously respond to calls from community groups like the NAACP to condemn the display of the flag because he sought “to try and get an understanding of what occurred that day.”
“If we allow a single outlier, that one person, to be the definition of an event that was meant to be patriotic and love for this great country, ladies and gentlemen, we’re in trouble,” Gibbs said, thanking all people who spoke about the parade at Tuesday’s meeting.
Gibbs, who said he arrived at the parade five minutes after it started, said he was saddened by the decision of the person who flew the “triple threat flag.”
“They did so under the right of this great country. It’s not something I would have done,” he said. “I know that you are all here just trying to do what you believe is best for those that you love and that you represent, and that is what I plan to do every minute that I sit at this dais representing you.”