Virginia officials order removal of American flag from construction site, calling it a 'target' for protestors

An American flag presented at a Richmond, Va., construction site was taken down almost as soon as it went up Friday after city officials voiced concerns that it could be a "target" for demonstrators and protesters.

Since the death of George Floyd in police custody in late May, protests and marches have continued throughout the nation. While most demonstrations have remained peaceful, officials worried the flag could pose a "safety risk" for the July Fourth weekend, according to The Washington Post.

"Over the past month we've seen buildings and structures around Capitol Square vandalized and flags, dumpsters, a bus and other items set ablaze during demonstrations around the city," Dena Potter, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of General Services, said in an email Friday. 

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"When we saw the flag, we were concerned that it could become a target, so we told the contractor to remove it," Potter said.

The decision to take down the flag upset a subcontractor, whose fireproofing company utilized tarps to create a giant flag — nearly the size of a one-story building — as a portion of a $300 million construction project.

"Since when is this flag, on this weekend, IN THIS COUNTRY, a Target!!" wrote Eric Winston of American Coatings Corp. in a Facebook post. "Let me guess, if I had a black lives matter flag it would be 'ok'!?"

Winston added that the flag was put up with the permission of the project's general contractor, Gilbane Building Company. Gilbane complied with the order, and the flag was removed.

Winston disputed the request, writing that "the American Flag is a symbol of Freedom."

"I'm all for the freedoms and liberty's we have in this country, Protest, sure. Take a knee during the national anthem, whatever floats your boat. Marry who you want, absolutely! That's what this flag represents! It's bull [expletive] that you made us take it down." he added.

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Potter said that there was no issue taken with a standard-sized American flag still flying on a crane above the object but that the massive flag hanging just a few stories above the ground was an easier reach and could be a potential target.

Potter commended Gilbane for removing the flag.

"They were very responsive when we asked them to remove it," she said in an email, adding that worker safety was the top priority while also preventing any damage to the flag.