Frustration with order to remove American flag from Richmond construction site mounts: ‘It’s a state building, protect it’

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia subcontractor is speaking out after state officials asked that a large American flag placed in downtown Richmond ahead of Fourth of July weekend be removed.

The flag was hung near Capitol Square on the new General Assembly building, which is still under construction. Just a few hours later, the state asked American Coatings Corporation to remove the flag, saying it could be a potential target for protesters.

American Coatings made the 50-foot-wide, 20-foot-long flag, which was placed on the site last week, out of tarps.

Winston, the vice president of American Coatings, a family-owned fireproofing company, said that the general contractor on the project, Gilbane Building Company, was “on board” to hang the flag for the weekend.

“5:30 Thursday morning, we went up and we hung it and it lasted about six hours and we got the phone call to take it down so that’s what we did,” Winston told 8News Monday.

The flag, now all folded up, is back with Winston.

“We were angry, we were upset,” he admitted. “What that flag stands for and the symbolism of the flag is what we love about this country.”

A spokesperson for the state Department of General Services said over the last month there has been vandalism around Capitol Square and that the flag was a potential target for people protesting racial injustice and police brutality.

Winston said he understands the concern but he’s still upset with the decision.

“We had the feeling that, hey, if we put this flag up and it’s on the state property, then the state can protect it,” he explained, “but we also understand that we don’t want the building being damaged. We don’t want people getting hurt getting up to a place where they shouldn’t be.”

On Monday, state Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) said the removal of the flag was “outrageous,” calling for the resignation of the official who authorized its removal, “even if that individual is the Governor.”

Winston said American Coatings has hung tarps at job sites in the past. He plans on finding another job site for the large American flag to hang again.

Correction: A previous edition of this article stated that Gilbane got approval from the state to hang the flag. Winston informed 8News that the company did not get permission from the state before hanging the flag from the construction site.

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