The Las Cruces Tea Party in New Mexico drew a sharp response from the city's mayor after flying a Confederate flag on a float that ended up taking first place at last week's Fourth of July parade.
"The Las Cruces Tea Party can believe whatever it wants, but to have this symbol and what it represents highlighting the winning float at a celebration of our nation's independence is an outrage," Mayor Ken Miyagishima wrote in a statement, according to New Mexico's KKOB
The mayor also promised action.
"I deeply apologize to the people of Las Cruces as well as our friends throughout the State of New Mexico for the pain that this has caused," Miyagishima said. "I can assure you that we will thoroughly review the rules and procedures for next year's parade to make sure that this never happens again!”
KRWG reports that Miyagishima followed up in a Facebook post that removed the exclamation point and clarified that "the freedom of speech will not be infringed upon when these charges are made.”
The Las Cruces Tea Party, winners of a $1,000 first-place prize, responded with their own statement saying their display was in line with the intent of the parade and float contest.
"The theme of the parade was the history of the State of New Mexico," the group said. "There was a lot of history that defined our state prior to 1912. We showed how we fought for our statehood and the sacrifices we made along the way, along with our triumphs."
"Before the Mayor complained so loudly perhaps he should consult the historical records of our state to see why it is there," they wrote. "We cannot rewrite history. It has already happened. All we can do is give an honest and complete replay to those who are interested."