Air Force veteran and New Jersey congressional candidate Billy Prempeh slammed Utah’s chapter of Black Lives Matter on Friday after the group declared the American flag is a “symbol of hatred” for black Americans in an Independence Day post on Facebook.
“The fact of the matter is that Black people are Americans, and Black history is American history,” GOP House candidate Prempeh told Fox News on Friday. “And the flag is absolutely a part of our history. The good, the bad, the ugly, all of it. And that’s what makes America great, because despite all of that, we continue to move forward.”
In Utah BLM’s post, the group claims people flying the American flag are “not safe to be around.”
“When we see this flag we know the person flying it is a racist,” the post stated. “When we see this flag we know that the person flying it lives in a different America than we do. When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred.”
Earlier this week, Lex Scott, founder of BLM Utah, defended the post to Fox News, saying it sought to bring attention to the purported double-standard that her comments draw criticism but hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan embracing the flag do not.
“Statements like that, saying that the flag is divisive, and that it’s carried by KKK members, it’s not necessarily true,” Prempeh said. “It’s a giant gaslighting statement to make to try and put all Americans, all the people that are pro-America, into a box stating that that’s a hateful symbol.”
“I see the flag as a unifying symbol, a symbol that has changed over time,” Prempeh continued. “And we haven’t always had the same American flag…And I believe that symbolizes all the things that have happened in this country over the past 245 years.”
Prempeh said the United States has made “incredible, incredible advancements” in both civil rights and social justice over the course of its 245-year history.
“And in 245 years, the world’s followed suit – to the point that many leave their home countries to become a part of the American identity and continue to push our country forward,” he said.
The House candidate said his parents emigrated from Ghana in the 1980s, and that he is very proud to represent the U.S. flag.
“I’m an Air Force veteran, and I took a lot of pride fighting under the American flag,” he said. “And I still take a lot of pride in being under that flag.”
“It’s only been 80 years since segregation,” he continued, asserting that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of the U.S. “And we had the first Black president elected not once, but twice.”
The Air Force veteran is running for office in New Jersey’s 9th district. In his first campaign advertisement, he proclaims, “America is a great nation, and Americans are incredible people. Anyone who tells you otherwise is straight up lying to you.”