An American flag featuring an image of President Barack Obama's face was removed from outside a local Florida Democratic Party headquarters Tuesday after several veterans called it "despicable" and a "desecration," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Veterans gathered Tuesday afternoon to protest in front of the Lake County Democratic Party headquarters, where the flag -- featuring Obama's face in the blue section where the stars normally go -- was flying beneath a traditional American flag. The confrontation ended after party chairwoman Nancy Hurlbert took the flag down, according to the Sentinel.
The protest started after Don Van Beck, a Korean war veteran and executive director of the Veterans Memorial at Fountain Park in Leesburg, Fla., snapped several pictures of the flag and distributed them to others. He told WFTV-TV seeing it made his blood boil.
"I can't describe how upset was because you just don't do that to the American flag," he told the station.
The group demanded Hurlbert remove the flag, saying it was a violation of the federal flag code that prohibits any "marks, insignia, letters, words, figures, designs, picture or drawings of any nature," the Leesburg Daily Commercial reported. According to the Sentinel, Hurlbert said she would look into the issue but didn't take the flag down right away. A short while later, she conceded and removed it.
"We're proud of our president and we didn't realize it was in violation," Hurlbert said. "I am the chair and I take responsibility for this."
Hurlbert told the newspaper it was the first time anyone had complained about the flag, which she said was given as a gift and had flown for several months without any issue.
"It's a cult of personality to show his face, like Stalin or Mao," retired Marine John Masterjohn told the Sentinel. "It's despicable. They don't realize how sick they are."
"If you've been a veteran and
fought -- and some died for this flag -- you don't want to see it desecrated. That's how simple it is," Van Beck told WFTV.
Hurlbert told Fox News she plans to contact an attorney about the situation, and was non-committal about whether she'll fly it again.
Still, because it went unnoticed for so long, she said she has a feeling it's "not about the flag."
"It leads me to believe that it's not about the flag," she told Fox News. "Certain elements cannot accept Barack Obama as president."