|From: Kevin Stone |
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 1:13 PM
Subject: The Telegraph - Mechanized Cavalry: Lake City FL Heritage Response Report
WE HAD A HERITAGE VIOLATION THAT OCCURRED IN FLORIDA WHERE A BLACK FEMALE POLICE CHIEF TOOK A PICTURE WITH OUR BOYS ATTENDING THE PARADE AT OLUSTEE. SHE ALSO FIRED SOME OFFICERS AS PART OF HER JOB AND EVIDENTLY ONE SENT THE PIC TO THE NAACP CLAIMING WE WERE THE KLAN AND SHE SUPPORTED US! THEY CALLED FOR HER BEING FIRED AND MONDAY A CITY COUNCIL MEETING WAS HELD WHERE OUR REP WAS CAPTAIN COLSON. HIS EXCELLENT ACTIONS AND REPORT ARE BELOW. HAT'S OFF TO CAPTAIN COLSON, FLORIDA, AND THE SCVMC FOR A JOB WELL DONE! WE NEED TO MAKE A COMMAND PRESENCE NEXT YEAR TO SHOW OUR SUPPORT SO PLEASE KEEP IT ON YOUR MINDS.
RIDE AS YOU WOULD WITH FORREST!!!
COLONEL SCV MECHANIZED CAVALRY, COMMANDING
From: Mark Simpson
Subject: RE: Lake City Heritage Response Report
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2012 14:07:02 -0400
What an outstanding letter of response and representation! My hats off to Ron Colson! Please forward my regards and respect.
Mark A. Simpson, Commander
South Carolina Division
Sons of Confederate Veterans
THIS IS WHAT MY SECOND IN COMMAND SENT REGARDING OUR DEFENSE OF THE POLICE CHIEF AND OUR HERITAGE! THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I LIKE TO SEE THE SCVMC USED FOR! WE ARE ALWAYS DOING THE GOOD WORKS OF CLEANING ROADSIDES, CEMETERIES, AND BATTLEFIELDS AS WELL AS INITIATING PROJECTS LIKE MEGA FLAGS OR MUSEUMS BUT THIS STIRS THE MEN AND BUILDS BROTHERHOOD. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT ON THIS AND FOR ALL YOU DO IN THE FULFILLMENT OF THE CHARGE!
RIDE AS YOU WOULD WITH FORREST
COLONEL SCV MECHANIZED CAVALRY, COMMANDING
This is Ron Colson's report of the Council meeting in Lake City last night. A good report with good results.
When I get back home I'll be able to complete the April, May, and June issues of the Confederate War Horse. So, if you have any comments and articles that you'd like to put in then please prepare them.
Greg Kalof on his way back home to Miami (sleeping in Alexandria, LA Tuesday night)
From: Ron Colson
Sent: 7/17/2012 10:34:09 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Lake City Heritage Response Report
Men, I apologize for the delay, but today's storms resulted in the loss of internet service until late into the evening.
As many were aware, a situation existed in Lake City, Florida which culminated with a council meeting at City Hall Monday night, July 16th. While varying descriptions of the situation were floating around, the reality turned out to be a couple of disgruntled ex-police department officers calling on the NAACP & SCLC to come in with lies and baseless accusations to remove a respected and effective police chief. In an effort to garner media attention and public support (from any who might have their head in the sand), they accused the chief of having met with & had her photo taken with a group of clansmen, at a KKK community event. You men would recognize it as the photo she had taken with SCV Mechanized Cavalry members while they waited to participate in the 2012 Olustee Re-enactment parade, in Lake City.
Having learned of the hearing, while participating in the 117th SCV Reunion, I made plans to attend in support of the Chief and, in doing so, let Lake City and the world know who these men really were. (The Chief was someone I knew personally, as she had retired from the Tallahassee Police Department three or four years ago and taken this job.)
On Monday afternoon I drove over to Lake City, arriving early enough to meet up with any attending members, reread my presentation, and make contact with others I'd learned of who would be also supporting the Chief. My first contact was with HK Edgerton. HK had traveled down, from South Carolina. Though we were Facebook friends and I had known of his extensive efforts in support of our cause, I had never had the pleasure of meeting him.
I first encountered HK outside of the Police Department, where I had hoped to see the Chief. He explained that she was in a meeting with the City Manager & Mayor and that there was little chance of seeing her before the meeting. Therefore, we talked as we walked the few blocks necessary to arrive at the city hall and went in to confirm the time & location of the meeting. Having time on our hands, I suggested we go somewhere and get something to drink. (Throughout our time together, I was able to get to know HK and learn (first hand) of his true devotion to the cause and knowledge of historical facts.)
Once outside the city hall, we talked for a time and noticed Ruppert's Bakery & Café, across the street. Though the signage indicated it had closed just before our arrival, the owner met us outside, learned of our purpose, and he invited us in. A few close friends (of the owner) were sitting about the few tables inside, chatting away as you'd expect in a small town. All were quick to make us feel welcomed. HK ordered a sweet tea and piece of cake and I had a diet coke & oatmeal cookie. We continued to have a pleasant conversation, speaking of the subject at hand, Confederate things in general, and of Confederate ancestors of one of the local folks. Upon finishing our conversation, drinks, food, and an additional piece of an experimental dessert the café owner had made and offered to us, we walked back to the park and continued our visit.
Shortly after arriving back in the park, a reporter approached us. Seeing the Mechanized Cavalry logo on my shirt and the flags on HK's baseball cap, I suppose the reporter's keen senses told him we were there concerning the same matter he was. He asked if he could interview us (on camera) and we consented. For whatever reason, I agreed to go first.
The reporter was Chris Gilmore and his camera indicated he was from Channel 20, WCJB. (I later learned that the station is out of Gainesville.) Though Chris seemed extremely friendly and unbiased (at the time), I've learned to ignore that as a disarming tactic. However, before the evening was over and clearly after seeing his piece broadcast, I do believe him to be a friendly and trustworthy reporter. I felt more comfortable with his interview than any I can remember. HK was next, and being the seasoned interviewee he is, his interview lasted awhile.
During HK's interview, another gentleman of color approached and asked if I was "Ron". I responded that I was "a Ron". It turns out that this gentleman was Dr. Lorenzo Dixon. Originally from the Lake City area, Dr. Dixon serves as a member of the rodeo association, in the Arcadia area, and has for the past five years. I had spoken with him on Sunday and was, therefore, aware of his plans to attend in support of not only the Chief, but of us as well. It seems that he's had considerable contact with our folks for several years and stated that we've never been anything but polite and respectful to him.
After speaking with Dr. Dixon for a time, we were approached by a reporter from Channel 6, here in Tallahassee. The reporter wanted an interview and I could see that Dr. Dixon wasn't noticeably eager. However, knowing that he was supportive of us (and seemingly not unsupportive of our cause) I encouraged him to accept, and he did. During his interview, I noticed a plain-clothed officer depart city hall and approach a nearby vehicle. I called out to him and he responded.
Walking over to meet with him, I introduced myself and solicited his opinion of the Chief. Acknowledging that he does not agree with everything she does, but pointing out that he doesn't agree with anyone on every issue, he explained that she was doing a great job and that he was glad she was there. He went on to explain the situation of the dismissed officers and identified one of them whom I had personal knowledge of. Approaching time for the meeting, we walked back to city hall and I displayed my credentials since I was carrying a weapon.
The City meeting, concerning utilities, had not concluded when we arrived upstairs, but the area was filling up in preparation for the "main event". In time, the utilities meeting ended and we began to file into the chambers.
Inside the chambers, I sought out the person with request-to-speak forms and got mine completed & returned as quickly as possible. The time dragged by and the room filled to capacity and overflowed two rooms out before the meeting was called to order. (I found it quite unusual to recite the pledge of allegiance without following it up with Dixie.) After an opening prayer, the meeting began.
For whatever reason, all of those seeking the resignation or firing of the Chief were called upon to speak first. Some did so with eloquence, and some did so without. What I later was able to confirm was that all of them spoke without the truth. (That's a fact, not an opinion.) Ironically, when all had spoken in favor of her demise, they simply left. Later, it became apparent why!
Next, a citizen arose to speak in support of the Chief. It was apparent that she was a regular to the meeting and she expressed her amazement at the large crowd in attendance. I was next!
While giving my name and address, as required, I also passed out copies of my presentation to all of the council members, the Mayor, and the City Manager. Up to that point, all but one of the cameras were a little to the right of where the speakers, including me, were speaking from. Quite obviously due to the Mechanized Cavalry logo on the left side of my chest, it seemed quite hilarious as they all scurried over to better film my shirt. Sticking to my script, until it was completed, I spoke with pride & sincerity to the council. Upon finishing my material, I added that, in doing as she had on the day of the parade, the Chief had not endorsed our cause or philosophy. She had done as any good ambassador would have, in that, she welcomed guests to their city. I declared that I hoped she was actually representing their values & character when she did so. (I am most pleased that each broadcast & newspaper account I've seen of my involvement has started with or included the remark that our members "are first, good American citizens!")
As I departed the podium, and later as I re-entered the room, I was thanked by black and white citizens (alike) for coming over and saying what I did. After it was all over, police officers and more citizens thanked me for participating.
While so many spoke in her favor, it was clear that my appearance was important & beneficial. I don't know whether it was, in any way, pivotal. But, as Chief Gilmore asked in her presentation (and emphasized in her PowerPoint), "did anyone ask these men who or what they were?" I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to answer that question for the council, for the citizens, and for the media. I truly believe that we have even more allies in Lake City than we had before. These folks already knew the value of attracting visitors to the area for the Olustee Reenactment & festivities. They now know more about the Sons of Confederate Veterans in general, and the Mechanized Cavalry specifically. They already knew the character of their police chief and now they know that we participated in helping to keep her.
At the close of the meeting, a councilman was apparently compelled to offer up a motion to express their support for the Chief. It passed unanimously!!
On a side note, there was a speaker there (on her behalf) who was , a few years back, standing before them in an effort to have the Confederate Battle Flag removed from the city seal. In addition to supporting Chief Gilmore, he acknowledged acceptance of the fact that our flag remains on the city seal, but now alongside the USA flag. (I have to believe the CBF is on their seal to stay, and it should be there for those to witness when our bicentennial is celebrated.)
Gentlemen, the only other MC member who was able to attend was Bob Whitaker #1068. I plan to express my appreciation to his employer for allowing him off, at the last minute, to attend. I also plan to present a certificate of appreciation to Dr. Lorenzo Dixon for all of his effort and support in this matter. Both will, hopefully, be presented in Lakeland at our August event.
Additionally, I'll be working with Commander Davis and C-I-C Givens to determine an appropriate expression of support for Police Chief Argatha Gilmore. I'll keep you all in the loop as this progresses.
I want to express my gratitude for all of the support shown in this situation and I want to make it clear that I understand how it was impossible for the rest of you to drop what you were doing and travel to Lake City, especially with such short notice. In retrospect, I believe it really worked out in our best interest that we did not show up in force to the meeting. However, next February, I want to see every motorcycle we can muster in Lake City for that parade. The city leaders have demonstrated their integrity and I want us to show them how continuing to help us preserve our heritage is good for business!
Captain Ron Colson #1050
SCV-MC, Company D, 3rd Battalion
ps. I've attached a copy of the letter I delivered to the Lake City Council, both orally and in hard copy.