Florence locals denounce Nazi flag flown outside business complex
Florence Police say a man who flew a Nazi flag outside a business center last Thursday acted alone, and without anyone’s permission or consent.
Meade tells KLCC that he was driving by and spotted the man, with an American flag draped over his shoulder, and hoisting a red flag with a swastika in its place.
“I asked him, ‘Excuse me, what do you think you’re doing?’ And he replied, ‘I’m putting up a Nazi flag. You got a problem with Nazis?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah I do.’ And then he called me an N-word lover, and I got really mad.”
Meade left, then came back to take pictures of the flag while Florence police were called. The man was making Nazi salutes and arguing with another person, but the situation didn’t escalate beyond that. Within half an hour, the flag was down and many onlookers denounced the action.
Meade said he’s glad others came out to protest the Nazi flag, and says there are few incidents like this in Florence. However…
“…in 2018, we had a car that was abandoned and it was spray-painted with the “N word…go home.” It’s troubling to see those things.”
Meade said as a person with multiple-sclerosis, he’s offended by the Nazi ideology that deemed people with such conditions as physically impure or inferior. In addition, the Nazi Party persecuted Jews, homosexuals, Roma and Sinti (commonly referred to as "the gypsy menace" by the Nazis) Jehovah's Witnesses, and political dissidents. driving many out of Germany or shipping them to concentration camps where millions perished.
No charges were pressed against the man. Florence Police say he’s acquainted with the building’s manager and owner. A Siuslaw News article quotes a center employee who described him as “mentally ill” though no one else has verified this. The man has been told not to do it again.
A Florence PD information officer said when asked why he flew the controversial flag, the man said because he liked it and that the American flag he'd taken down had a rip in it.
Both police and Meade told KLCC that Florence has little activity this drastic.
“Florence is a beautiful place,” said Meade. “We have good people here that stood up to that. And was like, ‘No, not in my home.’ So don’t let it scare you away.”
While the Nazi flag is associated with anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and white supremacy, it’s allowed in the U.S. under free speech protections. Groups including the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center have reported an increase in hate crimes in recent years, including violent acts inspired by Nazi ideology and symbols. A 2017 hearing in Congressoutlined the threats posed by such incidents.