TAMPA, Fla. — A giant Confederate flag that has overlooked the intersection of two interstate highways in Florida for a dozen years was removed after people on social media threatened to set it on fire.
The 30-foot by 60-foot battle flag, one of several Confederate flags that have fluttered above Interstates 4 and Interstate 75 since 2008, was taken down by a Tampa chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The Stars and Bars flag and the Confederate flag used by the state of Florida during the Civil War has also flown at the site.
The flag, the second largest of its kind in the world, is situated in Confederate Memorial Park, a small parcel of land on U.S. 92 where a 139-foot pole was erected in 2008, the newspaper reported.
Marion Lambert bought the land in 2004, and got permits from Hillsborough County to build a park to honor “American veterans.”
“They never asked me jack,” Lambert told the Times in 2008.
David McCallister, head of the chapter that oversees the memorial, said his organization chose to take down the flag to avoid potential vandalism, WTSP reported.
“We do not want to be a target. We do not want to provide any incentive for people to break the law," McCallister told the television station. “We are behind law enforcement and first responders. We deplore the destruction of private and public property.”
The move comes after George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd’s death has sparked protests and violence in cities nationwide, including Tampa. After violence erupted in the city over the weekend, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor imposed a curfew.
The group has rarely removed the flag, taking it down when hurricanes threatened the area. But this is the first time the flag has been taken down because of threats.
“We want to lower the temperature and defuse any problems,” McCallister told the Times.
The group said it hopes to leave the flag down no longer than a week.
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