DU QUOIN (WSIL) — State leaders had a heated exchange over the removal of Confederate Railroad from the Du Quoin State Fair.
At issue is the band’s use of the Confederate battle flag in its logos.
"It means different things to different people," State Rep. Terri Bryant, (R) Murphysboro, said.
Bryant said she doesn’t support the flag or what it represents.
"It was the symbol of a people who wanted to break away from the United States. It was a symbol of slavery," Bryant said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office agrees and that’s why he doesn’t want the symbol anywhere near the Du Quoin State Fair.
Deputy chief of staff Emily Bittner said Illinois will not use state resources to promote symbols of racism.
"Symbols of hate cannot and will not represent the values of the Land of Lincoln," Bittner told Rich Miller of Capitol Fax.
Bittner said Bryant met with three members of Pritzker’s staff Monday, two of which were African American, and then lectured them about what the Confederate flag means to southern Illinoisans.
Bryant said Pritzker’s staffers were lecturing her about history she knows very well.
"Depending on your perspective, we could both say we were lectured to," Bryant said.
Bittner also accused Bryant of making jokes about the governor’s safety if he appears in Du Quoin for the fair.
"When she said this, she added: ‘I love my people, but they’re crazy.’," Bittner said. "Given her concerns, we hoped her (Facebook) post would have reflected her stated desire to tone down the acrimony and the intimations of violence. We were sorely disappointed."
Bryant posted to social media Monday night to vent her frustration over the meeting with Pritzker’s staff.
She said the comment about the people in her district was misconstrued.
"I have a very different recollection of what was said," Bryant said.
Bryant said her issue is with the governor’s office picking and choosing what is offensive and what isn’t. She points to Snoop Dogg being on the Illinois State Fair lineup in Springfield, despite him posting a photo of a corpse meant to symbolize President Trump two years ago.
"You’re being very hypocritical and that’s when government censorship goes down a very slippery slope," Bryant said.
Danny Shirley of Confederate Railroad issued a statement, encouraging people to see the two other bands slated to play the Du Quoin State Fair August 27 and thanking fans for the support.
Bryant hopes people don’t boycott the fair over this decision because it doesn’t just impact the state.
"I think there are better ways to get your message out than boycotting, but if you’re going to boycott, then could you keep in mind that a lot of these not-for-profits and these local vendors really need the fair," Bryant said.
And she just wants the governor’s office to be consistent about what it does and doesn’t allow.