JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville business will be able to keep its military flags flying after a city inspector issued a citation Monday demanding that they be taken down.
According to employees at Jaguar Power Sports, the city inspector, Melinda Power, went into the store around noon Monday and issued the citation, saying the flags violated city code. The rooftop display included two U.S. flags, flags representing each branch for the military and another one representing the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to WJXT.
The warning didn’t sit well with a customer—a military veteran who told Power that he thought it was wrong to take down the flags.
That touched off a tense exchange involving the city inspector and the customer. Witnesses said Power questioned what the customer had done for his country. He responded that he was a retired veteran who took three bullets to the leg for his country.
Witnesses said Power responded by saying, “You did nothing for this country.”
Store managers refused to take down the flags. The business posted a video on its Facebook page detailing what happened. That video attracted an overwhelming amount of attention on social media. As of early Tuesday morning it’s been viewed more than 3.7 million times and has been shared more than 155,000 times.
“We just had the city of Jacksonville here onsite to cite us for our military flags,” an employee said in the video. “We just got a ticket for flying military flags. They cited us for every flag because they were mad that we had flags flying at the top of the building.”
The incredulous employee asked people to share what happened.
“They told us to take them down or go to court over it. Are you serious right now? And then [they] have the nerve to tell our military vet in our store that ‘you’ve done nothing for our country?’ How do you think that went over?”
The employee called the situation “ridiculous” and said the city was “picking on the small guys” over the flags.
The incident soon got the attention of the mayor’s office.
“I have directed city staff that military flags should be treated same as U.S. flag. Let them fly,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted. “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. We support our military and veterans, and we appreciate businesses that honor their service.”
A city spokesman said in a statement that the incident was under review and added that the mayor has reached out to discuss the matter with store officials.
The store managers ripped up the citation and will keep the flags flying without worrying about fines or citations from the city, according to WJXT.