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Op-Ed: Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale Has Meltdown Over Tire Marks on Gay Flag Painted on Public Street

According to a NBC Miami, a surveillance camera captured the driver of a Ford F-250 pickup truck doing a burnout along the length of the mural before leaving the scene.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Let me clear: Peaceful protest is the vehicle of expressing viewpoints for rational and reasonable citizens. Not purposely defacing a painted street area with tire marks.

According to NBC Miami News, “Fort Lauderdale Police are investigating after a pride flag street mural was defaced with tire marks. The incident happened back on Feb. 28 on Sebastian Street, where the 150-foot long flag is painted on the ground.”

Here are my points:

  1. I am proud of my Appalachian heritage, my womanhood, and my motherhood. However, if elected mayor I would not wave a flag of representative because not all citizens are Appalachians, women, or mothers. Why would I want to exclude other groups?
  • I am all for gay rainbow flags waving and celebrating at Pride events.
  • An elected official has no business painting a special flag for a special group on a public street. That brings division and not unity. Special rights bring division.
  • The Red-White-Blue signifies freedom for all Americans. This is the only flag that should wave on poles for public buildings, public schools, and public establishments because this represents unity for all.
  • Painting any flag or mural on a street that vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians use is not a wise decision. That’s not the purpose of roads.
  • Using funds from taxpaying citizens to paint a flag that represents one group over another group is entitlement for special rights not equal rights.
  • Other groups that want their own special flag or symbol painted on a street in Ft. Lauderdale need to apply and the mayor and city council cannot refuse based on grounds of discrimination.
  • The only flag that should wave over the White House and at U.S. embassies around the world is the American flag.
  1. Waving your own flag on your own private property shows your satisfaction on your own heritage, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, political party, sports team, and so forth.
  • Anyone that calls me a homophobic hater or a bigot is using a tactic of censorship and denying my freedom of speech. I am a heterosexual White female. Why does that automatically make me a racist or an enemy?

“It is incredibly hurtful, it’s something we work for at Pride to bring people together, to let them know we expel the hate and try to stay positive and loving, and to see this, which is completely senseless, it’s completely filled with hate, it’s unnecessary,” said Miik Martorell, president of Pride Fort Lauderdale.

Of course, it’s what the gay Pride flag represents more than the tire marks on a painted street. I get it. But again – a public area needs to be inclusive of all residents.

“The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is deeply disturbed this incident took place,” Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Patrick Lynn said in a statement. “We stand in support of our LGBTQ community and will continue to gather details surrounding this vandalism.”

Police officers need to support all residents in the community.

As reported by MSN News, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Greg Chavarria said Monday night the police department might announce the results of its investigation as early as Tuesday and said he had “great confidence that they will be able to get to the bottom of this.”

Again, peaceful and persistent protest is what brings about lasting change.

However, focusing on our commonalities is what unifies people – not focusing on our differences. And living in the greatest country on the planet, even with our warts and scars, is what needs to be celebrated daily in public places and spaces.

Dean Trantalis is the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor. I get it. Trantalis is an activist for the LGBTQ community. However, he was elected as mayor for all the residents in his city. And painting a mammoth gay flag on a public street is not honoring all the residents – whether they voted for him or not.

As noted in the article, the mayor said the damage to the flag should be viewed in the context of rising animosity toward traditionally marginalized, minority populations. “In a way I guess I expected it because of the creeping level of hate that’s starting to materialize in our community — not just against the gay community, but against Jews and against Blacks,” Trantalis said, something he said is fueled by political rhetoric that “gives license to those who already harbor feelings of hate.”

My questions: Now, why did the mayor add fuel to the emotional fire by pointing to Jews and Blacks? Where is the evidence that the tire marks represent discrimination against other minorities? Why didn’t he point to discrimination against Christians, Muslims or women?

Violence against any group (minority or majority) is unacceptable. And that’s what needs to be said by all elected officials, police officers, and citizens.

Although, I’m not privy to the mayor’s thoughts, was he alluding to an American’s right to disagree with drag queens performing in front of children and harmful puberty blockers and surgeries for transitioning minors? Making blanket statements based on your own opinion and not evidence is not appropriate or wise for any elected official.

Blessed are the leaders that are peacemakers.

Ft. Lauderdale needs to proudly wave the American flag on its streets.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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