City Apologizes For Military Flags Flap At Jacksonville Business

Apr 17, 2018

A city inspector and her supervisor have been placed on leave following a controversial citation issued to Jaguar Power Sports for flying military flags, according to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s office.

A store’s manager recorded video of the incident at Jaguar Power Sports that quickly went viral on social media.

On Monday, city inspector Melinda Power came to the business on a separate issue regarding the blockage of a part of Blanding Boulevard’s sidewalk with motorsports products.

According to employees, Power returned to Jaguar Power Sports with her supervisor and issued a warning for the amount of flags being displayed on the roof of the building.

In the warning citation, Power wrote down the flag violation fell under city code section 656.1303, also known as the Zoning Limitations On Signs.  

The city’s  Building Inspection Division webpage states the following are considered unlawful sign structures:

Consists of streamers, ribbons, pennants or wind activated devices, multiple flags, including multiple flags of states, governmental units, balloons, including individual and giant balloons which are inflated and tethered for support which encompass an area or areas, singularly or in aggregate, greater than twenty-five (25) square feet

When the citation warning was issued emotions were running high between Power and a veteran who was a customer in the store at the time and defending the store’s right to have the flags flying.

The confrontation was captured on the store’s surveillance video and widely distributed on social media and television outlets. Mayor Curry’s office has also asked the store for a copy to review it.

Katie Klasse, an employee at Jaguar Power Sports, said her employer and the city have been cooperating with each other to resolve the issue while others reached out on the store’s behalf.

“I know a lot of people in Jacksonville have been in contact with the mayor trying to maybe rewrite legislation as far as code goes that might affect anyone else who wants to fly military or prisoner of war flags,” Klasse said.

In support of the business, veterans such as Don Brown, brought in a Prisoner of War flag to be displayed with the others.

“I went through this once before with the Vietnam War and I’m not going to go through this again.  People ought of respect the flag and what its represent,” Brown said.

According to the United States Flag Code, “The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.”

Based on a WJCT News reporter’s visual observation, Jaguar Power Sports was following the flag code.

The city has issued an apology to the business and according to employees, the warning that was issued has been rescinded

In a statement, Curry said that “While current ordinance does not address residents or businesses displaying military flags, I will not allow any citation of those who demonstrate their support for the Armed Forces. My team is working with the city’s Office of General Counsel to bring clarity to the relevant city laws. “

Jaguar Power Sports has responded to the flap by announcing a t-shirt fundraiser with proceeds being sent to military-affiliated organizations.

Joslyn Simmons can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6316