A Florida city inspector has been suspended from her position after she ordered a local Jacksonville car dealership to remove all its military flags that are proudly displayed on top of the business, and she also insulted a local veteran while she issued the citation.
“You did nothing for this country,” a Jacksonville city inspector told a military veteran when she entered the Jaguar Power Sports dealership on Monday to issue a warning citation over the display of the dealership’s military flags, store employees told News4JAX.
Melinda Power, the city inspector, ordered the Cedar Hills Estate dealership to remove its military flag display, stating they were in violation of city code.
Jaguar Power Sports posted a video to Facebook about the incident and the citation the business received. The video has gone viral, with more than 9 million views on Wednesday morning.
“We just got a ticket in the city of Jacksonville … for flying military flags. They cited us for every flag because they were mad we had the flags up top on the building,” the man, who identifies himself as “Sean,” says in the video. “They’re citing us for flying military flags in a military town.”
He also calls out Power, and the incident she created in the store with a military veteran customer.
Power and her supervisor have since been suspended.
Power’s order to remove the flags was troubling to a patron, who was a military veteran.
Store employees told Power to leave the business after she verbally attacked the veteran, News4JAX reported.
Watch the surveillance footage here.
Powers said to the vet: “What did you do for this country?”
“He says, ‘I took three bullets to the leg. I almost lost my life for this country. I’m retired. I’m a veteran.’ She gets in his face this close and says, ‘You did nothing for this country,'” store employee Katie Klasse said.
“We cater to our men and women, both retired and active military, so it was personal. We felt like it was a personal attack. The way she handled the situation was terrible,” said store manager Marcy Moyer.
According to the managers of the dealership, the flags will remain where they are and will not be removed.
News of the incident made its way to the mayor’s office, and Mayor Lenny Curry issued a statement.
“I have directed city staff that military flags should be treated same as U.S. flag,” he tweeted. “Let them fly. I have reached out to the business owner and will review employee procedures. COJ employees [are] expected to be respectful of our customers – you, the people of Jacksonville.”
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
A statement from the mayor’s office said:
“We are disturbed by some of the claims made about a City employee and are reviewing the facts. We are also reviewing the current ordinances regarding flags and signs to ensure accurate information was shared. The business was issued a warning, and was not fined. Warnings are issued to provide property owners information about a possible violation, and corrective action. I have contacted the dealership and provided the owner with the mayor’s contact information for them to discuss directly. Mayor Curry and his administration respect and appreciate those in uniform who have served and continue to serve our community, and our country.”
Statement from Mayor Lenny Curry regarding the display of military flags at a Jacksonville business: pic.twitter.com/DjCVJbock8
— City of Jacksonville (@CityofJax) April 17, 2018
On Tuesday, Mayor Curry suspended Power and her supervisor, who was at the dealership during Monday’s incident
In a Facebook post, which was later removed, Power apologized for the controversy. She said tempers flared.
“I should never have been unprofessional and disrespectful, period. Sincerely apologize,” Power said in her post.
She added that she has the utmost respect for the military and her father, husband and son-in-law have all served in the military.
Military support for the dealership has been pouring since Monday’s incident.
Military veteran Dan Arbour told News4Jax: “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. Somebody needs to school her on what the codes are. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. We have the life we have because of these flags and the men who serve. I’ve got words for her that I can’t say on TV.”
“I was enraged. I’m retired Navy. My son [is] retired Army. We put our butts out there and they pull this. I don’t like it. The way she handled herself was totally disrespectful,” Navy veteran Lanny Austin said.