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Parade group bars guest for Confederate monument throws

February 27, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans parade group says it has put a lifetime ban on a guest who threw yellow penalty flags protesting removal of Confederate monuments.

The woman, Mimi Owens, told Nola.com/The Times-Picayune that she also threw beads with a pendant bearing Robert E. Lee’s image and the words “Forever Lee Circle.”

She rode Saturday with the Krewe of Freret (fruh-RET), in a group called The Legion of Mars. The Legion of Mars did not respond to a message sent through its website, the newspaper said.

Freret investigated after hearing reports of the penalty flags, krewe captain Bobby Hjortsberg told the newspaper.

New Orleans parade riders throw beads, big aluminum “doubloons,” stuffed toys and other items to the crowds. A city ordinance bars any throw with a commercial, political or religious message.

Owens said she made the flags, which showed a crane removing Lee’s statue and the words, “Saints fans think they were robbed!!!”

Hjortsberg said, “This was an individual who decided to use our Mardi Gras parade to exercise her own political agenda, and that won’t be tolerated, especially when that agenda is not in line with the inclusive nature that our organization embodies.”

The group is gender- and racially diverse, he said.

Owens said neither she nor her throws are racist or political.

Forever Lee Circle beads showed up last Mardi Gras, the first since former Mayor Mitch Landrieu had four Confederate monuments in spring 2017, including the statue that topped a 60-foot 60 (18-meter) pedestal at Lee Circle.

Owens said she ordered more Forever Lee Circle beads this year and sold most of them, assuming the buyers will throw them from parades.

She said she created the throws “to get attention that there are people that are not happy about them removing these monuments. No one will give us a chance to speak. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com