When it comes to defending American patriotism, it seems it always pays to fight for what’s right.
A Florida motorcycle dealership found itself facing penalties and allegedly rude behavior by city employees when it was ordered to take down military flags flying atop its store. After a now-viral Facebook video posted by the shop, the flags are being allowed to continue flying, the store has been spared the fines and the city employees suspended.
But many, especially local military service members, are still disturbed over what transpired.
Jaguar Power Sports committed the unthinkable act in an American city and was proudly displaying patriotic flags on the roof of its Jacksonville store when the city’s code compliance officer reportedly issued a separate citation for each flag, which included two American flags and one representing each branch of the U.S. military.
In the Facebook video which has been viewed over 7 million times, the dealership called out the employee, Melinda Power, for issuing the citation and for verbally insulting a veteran in the store.
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Military Flags not allowed in Jacksonville , Melinda Power cites Jaguar Power Sports for flying military flags … but wait it gets better —- what did she SAY ?? Watch
Posted by Jaguar Power Sports on Monday, April 16, 2018
“What did you do for this country?” Power allegedly asked a veteran inside the shop, according to WJXT-TV.
“I took three bullets to the leg. I almost lost my life for this country. I’m retired. I’m a veteran.” he reportedly responded.
The city employee then allegedly got “in his face” and told him, “You did nothing for this country,” as could be seen in a video.
Store manager Marcy Moyer felt the whole situation was “personal.”
“We cater to our men and women, both retired and active military, so it was personal. We felt like it was a personal attack,” she told WJXT-TV. “The way she handled the situation was terrible.”
Military veterans came to the defense of Jaguar Power Sports, showing up at the Duval County location after learning about the incident Monday.
“They’re flying a flag on their building and it’s not out in the street. It’s not in the public right-of-way. All these flags represent people who lived, worked and died serving our country so we can do this,” military veteran Dan Arbour told the station.
“Somebody needs to school her on what the codes are. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” he said about Power. “We have the life we have because of these flags and the men who serve,” Arbour added. “I’ve got words for her that I can’t say on TV.”
The station reportedly “looked into what ordinance violation sparked the controversy, but couldn’t find anything that would warrant a citation.”
“I was enraged. I’m retired Navy. My son’s retired Army. We put our butts out there and they pull this. I don’t like it,” Navy veteran Lanny Austin said. “The way she handled herself was totally disrespectful.”
Word of the incident soon reached Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry who announced later that the flags could stay up and added that the city’s employees are “expected to be respectful.”
1. I Have directed city staff that military flags should be treated same as US flag. Let them fly. I Have reached out to the business owner & will review employee procedures. COJ employees r expected to be respectful of our customers – you, the people of Jacksonville.
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) April 16, 2018
2. We support our military and veterans, and we appreciate businesses who honor their service.
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) April 16, 2018
Power later posted to Facebook herself, issuing an apology before deleting the post, though screen shots continued to be circulated on social media.
On Tuesday, the mayor announced that Power and her supervisor, who was present at the store with her, were suspended pending an investigation.
“What I saw reported is 100 percent inconsistent with how I expect every city employee to interact with our citizens,” Curry said in a statement, according to WJXT. “I have ordered a review of the actions of the employee and pending the completion of that review, the employee and her supervisor have been placed on leave.”
The Jaguar Power Sports manager does not want to see anyone get fired but is glad the incident got attention.
“How they’re going to deal with their employee is going to be on them,” Moyer said. “I know that our customer base would love to see me say, ‘Fire her,’ but I hate to see anybody lose their job. That was not the purpose of this. It was to bring awareness and hope that someone would not treat someone else that way.”
She added that threats against the city employee were not something her or her business support.
“Leave this woman alone. Let the city of Jacksonville do their job and (do) what they see fit,” Moyer said. “It is their employee to deal with. We brought it to their attention and they are definitely addressing it.”
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