RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — State officials in Virginia ordered the removal of a large American flag from a construction site ahead of the Fourth of July, calling it a potential target for people protesting racial injustice and police brutality.
Dena Potter, spokeswoman for the state Department of General Services, said officials asked a contractor to take down the flag from a new office building for state lawmakers under construction in Richmond.
“Over the past month we’ve seen buildings and structures around Capitol Square vandalized and flags, dumpsters, a bus and other items set ablaze during demonstrations around the city,” Potter said in an email.
Potter said the state doesn’t object to a standard-sized flag that’s still flying on a crane at the site. But she said the larger one would have been easier to reach.
The Washington Post reports that the decision angered a subcontractor whose fireproofing company used tarps to make the flag, which was approximately one-story tall.
“Since when is this flag, on this weekend, IN THIS COUNTRY, a Target!!” Eric Winston of American Coatings Corp. wrote in a facebook post, according to the newspaper. “Let me guess, if I had a black lives matter flag it would be ‘ok’!?”
Winston wrote that the project’s general contractor, Gilbane Building Company, had signed off on the flag going up before the state asked the company to take it down.
“They were very responsive when we asked them to remove it,” Potter said of Gilbane. “Of course the safety of the workers on the job and the public is our No. 1 concern, but we also did not want to see the flag damaged in any way.”
The Post said Winston and officials with Gilbane’s Richmond office did not respond to messages seeking comment.