NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Residents of a Norfolk neighborhood are speaking out against a neighbor after he flew a Nazi flag outside his home in Ghent.
Several people sent 10 On Your Side pictures of the flag, which included a swastika in the center. WAVY’s Rico Bush spoke to several people who live near the home, who say the flag was offensive. Ghent resident Sherene Silverberg and her son, who are Jewish, were passing by on Mowbray Arch when the flag caught their eye.
“We saw that flag. It was like being kicked in the belly by a horse. This is America, a country that is tolerant,”Silverberg said.
The Nazi symbol immediately brought back hurtful memories.
“He’s a squirming little coward, putting a flag up to remind us all what was done to our people,” Silverberg said.
WAVY.com also spoke with the homeowner to get his side of the story. The man who put up the flag wouldn’t go on camera unless 10 On Your Side agreed to his terms, in writing. As a news organization, WAVY does not agree to conditions like that, so we did not interview him on camera. But he did say he put the flag up to protest President Obama. And he said he has a right to free speech.
Some residents in the area agreed he has the right to fly whatever he wants, but others believe the flag is extremely hurtful.
“I was happy with the outpouring of the community, their outrage over this,” Vicki Wolfson said.
“He just needs to understand that his actions have consequences, and that if he wants to hang up the Nazi flag, we will talk out against him,” Silverberg said. “It’s free speech. He’s free to hang it, and we’re free to call him on it.”
The homeowner took the flag down after many residents complained. He didn’t tell 10 On Your Side why he took the flag down, but did say he understood why people would find a symbol of Nazi Germany offensive, because he was half Jewish.
“I’m relieved that it’s down, but the man hasn’t changed, just his outward expression of anger is gone,” Silverberg said.