A Jacksonville, Florida, code inspector was placed on leave after she warned a store to remove U.S. military flags from its roof — but most notably after video surfaced showing the inspector getting in a customer’s face who was upset about her warning, WJAX-TV reported.
Melinda Power entered Jaguar Power Sports with her supervisor Monday and said the store’s rooftop flags — representing each branch of the military — violated city code, the station said. The store also flies two American flags and a Jacksonville Jaguars flag along with them, WJAX said.
Employees told the station a customer overheard Power issue the warning, during which she told the business to correct the violation or risk “prosecution for the offense,” the station said.
“We cater to our men and women, both retired and active military, so it was personal,” store manager Marcy Moyer told WJAX in an earlier story. “We felt like it was a personal attack.”
Thing is, the customer is a military veteran — and as you might expect, he was upset about the warning to the store and a confrontation soon unfolded, which was caught on surveillance video, WJAX said.
‘You did nothing for this country’
“[Power] says, ‘What did you do for this country?’ He says, ‘I took three bullets to the leg. I almost lost my life for this country. I’m retired. I’m a veteran,'” store employee Katie Klasse told the station. “She gets in his face this close and says, ‘You did nothing for this country.'”
Employees said Power was so disruptive and disrespectful to the veteran that they asked her to leave, WJAX reported.
What was the reaction?
Outrage ensued. City Hall was inundated with calls about the citation, the station said, adding that of 50 calls taken in the first hour of business, most wanted the inspector fired.
Military veterans fumed in front of TV cameras outside Jaguar Power Sports, saying the inspector’s actions were insulting and out of line, particularly when those who’ve served in the armed forces have given so much to their country.
What did the mayor say?
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday morning said Power and her supervisor “have been placed on leave” pending the outcome of a review, WJAX reported.
“What I saw reported is 100 percent inconsistent with how I expect every city employee to interact with our citizens,” Curry also said, the station reported.
He added, “As the son and grandson of military veterans, and the mayor of a city with a proud history of commitment to our nation’s defense, I will not tolerate disparagement or disrespect of the men and women who serve or served. On behalf of the City of Jacksonville, I apologize to veterans and service members who are rightly troubled by the events that have been reported,” WJAX said.
Curry also explained that “current ordinance does not address residents or businesses displaying military flags,” but he “will not allow any citation of those who demonstrate their support for the armed forces. My team is working with the city’s Office of General Counsel to bring clarity to the relevant city laws,” the station reported.
What did the veteran who argued with Power say later?
The customer who argued with Power told WJAX he’s pleased that the mayor responded, adding that he’d like Power to apologize to the veteran community — not necessarily to him — and that he “doesn’t want anyone to lose their job.”
How did the store respond to the inspector being placed on leave?
Moyer also told the station she doesn’t want to see Power fired: “I know that our customer base would love to see me say, ‘Fire her,’ but I hate to see anybody lose their job. That was not the purpose of this. It was to bring awareness and hope that someone would not treat someone else that way.”
What did Power allegedly say later?
Power — in a now-deleted Facebook post — allegedly recalled the incident differently, saying she thought the customer had asked her, “Do you know what I did?” WJAX said, adding that her response was “nothing.”
But she also allegedly admitted: “I should never have been unprofessional and disrespectful period. Sincerely apologize.”
She reportedly added that her father, husband and son-in-law all have served in the military and that she has “the utmost respect for the military.”
(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)