BRANDON, Fla. (AP) — A huge Confederate battle flag has been lowered from its towering pole near Interstates 4 and 75 outside Tampa after threats appeared on social media to set it on fire during protests of the killings of black people by white authorities.
David R. McCallister, who leads the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, wants people to know that removing the 30-foot by 60-foot (9-meter by 18-meter) battle flag wasn’t a decision made in fear.
“The decision was we would temp take down the flag in the bests interests of preserving the park overall,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “We don’t want the flag to be an excuse for anyone to do illegal acts.”
The flag flies on a 139-foot (42-meter) flag pole, erected in Confederate Memorial Park in 2008 for the 200th birthday of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America. The group typically only removes it when hurricanes threaten the area.
“We want to lower the temperature and defuse any problems,” McCallister said.
McCallister posted on Facebook on Sunday that the flag was considered a “high visibility target” for protests in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.