While parading a Confederate flag may not be so unusual in the South, many Omaha, Nebraska, natives were outraged after a cell tower technician flew a version of the Civil War-era banner high above a local public school.
On July 27, Omaha natives driving near the Millard West High School first caught sight of a peculiar banner flying from a cell tower looming above the campus: a makeshift half-American, half-Confederate flag.
“This isn't the culture of Nebraska. Didn’t we fight for the North?” a local wrote on Facebook. “This guy from Alabama or something?”
Another commented: “Hanging a symbol of racism and hatred high for all to see while representing your employer? I hope someone gets sacked.”
According to reports from local station KMTV, an alleged Iconic Communications employee, who chose to keep his identity a secret, admitted that he often hangs up the controversial flag on whatever cell tower he’s working on.
"Yeah, normally it gets everybody's attention and everything," the anonymous employee told the news outlet.
However, since the flag was hanging over the campus of the Millard West High School, many people passing by mistakenly believed the school was behind the Southern battle flag.
The school’s tennis coach, Tom Koziol, was teaching a lesson when he first saw the flag, and later received complaints from parents about the offensive flag. “I've had three parents come and talk to me because they thought that it was something the high school was doing cause it's right by the high school. But it's not high school property; it's not their land. It's all the cell tower stuff," Koziol told KMTV.
Students on the school grounds who saw the flag were also taken aback by the makeshift flag. “That's standing for something that's not appropriate at all," one student hanging out on school grounds told the outlet.
However, in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle, the communications director of Millard Public School District, Rebecca Kleeman, vehemently denied any association with the flag.
“We do not condone any behavior that diminishes the self-worth of any individual,” reads a statement from Kleeman.
“Millard Public Schools clearly states our beliefs and parameters in our strategic plan. Our beliefs include, ‘All people are entitled to a safe, caring and respectful environment.’” Kleeman tells Yahoo Lifestyle the school had reached out to Iconic Communications about the flag and has received no response; Iconic Communications also has not responded to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
The cell tower worker told KMTV he hung the flag to honor his “heritage.” The unidentified employer said the flag pays homage to his great grandfather, who fought in the Civil War.
However, many Omaha natives saw the half-American, half-Confederate flag as “racist” and “offensive” because of its ties to racism and slavery.
“The ‘culture’ it represents is inherently and proudly racist. And offensive. Nebraska was a free territory and part of the Union. Nebraskans died to quash this ‘culture’ of owning people for profit,” one outraged Omaha native commented on Facebook.
Another wrote: “It doesn’t represent a single thing with OUR culture ‘up here’!!! [It’s] a southern thing! He needs to take his racist flag and go south! I'm sure there are plenty of people in our great state that would help him move right on along...”
However, Facebook users hailing from the South were split on the half-American, half-Confederate flag.
“Fly high confederate flag. We should not be ashamed of our past,” one user commented. “It is how we got to where we are now.”
However, another commenter who was “born and raised in the South” argued that Southern heritage could be celebrated without the contentious flag. “I would not fly this flag. Yes, it is part of history which should be recorded as part of US history education, but not celebrated. We can celebrate our southern heritage without this.”
After KMTV spoke with workers about the controversial flag, they soon decided to take it down.
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