WEST BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – The KKK flag, infuriating some neighbors as it flapped in the wind outside of a West Boca Raton home, was taken down Wednesday night.
The man, who hasn’t given his name, said he had every right to fly the flag as part of his freedom of speech. Code enforcement in the area agreed after visiting the home.
But the flag is down Wednesday night, soon to be replaced with a Confederate flag.
The man did not speak to CBS4’s Brian Andrews but his wife Marla Curly, however, had plenty to say to Andrews, and to her mother who stopped by begging her daughter and son-in-law to end the neighborhood controversy.
“Apologize to who? The Blacks and the Puerto Ricans? Just because he took the flag down doesn’t mean he feels any different,” Curly said to her mother. “He still feels the way he feels.”
Curly did say that the flag was down for good.
“I’m apologizing for him,” Curly said.
Curly said that her husband, whom she calls Steven, put up the flag “because he’s a boob.” She also said that flying the flag was “ignorant and offensive” and that the couple will be putting up a confederate flag because “he’s a rebel without a cause.”
Curly said that she found the outrage in response to the flag funny that it was such a big thing to so many people.
“What’s wrong with you people? I’ve been here for 32 years. You don’t belong here. Tan America!” shouted neighbor Susan Wantz. “You’re a pig! There’s not room in America for racism and people like you. If you don’t like it in this neighborhood, get out!”
Curly spoke earlier Wednesday, while the flag was still up, urging her husband to say something and tell people why he “loves to be a white man.
She said she doesn’t believe in what the Klan stands for, but her husband does. She said he has his beliefs, and she has hers.
CBS4’s Ted Scouten asked Curly, “With the Klan, they’re known to be anti-gay, anti-Jew, anti-black, anti-Latin.” Marla replied, “Okay, that’s their club. That’s their feelings. It’s not everybody’s feelings. I don’t feel that way. I’m not anti most of those.”
“I’m not racist, they are, but they’re really good people,” said neighbor Bianca Barresi.
In addition to the Klan flag, a sign saying “Members Wanted” is also in the yard and a noose hangs in the front yard. The man said he didn’t say what he was recruiting members for and that the noose was in the front yard because he didn’t “have a big tree in the backyard to hang it from.”
Curly said she can’t understand why others can fly their flags, but when someone raises the flags of the Confederacy and the Klan it draws so much anger.
“The Spanish people put their Spanish flag up and it has meaning,” Curly said. “It means they are Spanish, we love to be Spanish. Okay, they love to love who they love, they love to be white.”
Curly said her husband and the Klan are misunderstood.
“They don’t kill people they don’t have meetings with the pointy white hats and its not as bad, it’s nothing,” Curly said.
Wednesday afternoon the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU released statements on the Klan flag controversy.
“The First Amendment is a powerful constitutional right. It protects both mainstream speech and extremist speech,” said Hava Holzhauer, ADL Florida Regional Director. “However, the Anti-Defamation League strongly condemns the display of the Ku Klux Klan flag coupled with the noose, which is akin to the swastika with respect to the Jewish community in the fearful emotions it evokes within the African-American community. While the display is likely legal, these symbols are highly offensive, hurtful and a haunting reminder of the Ku Klux Klan’s history of violence, terrorism, and lynchings of African Americans.”
The First Amendment protects the right of people to express themselves – even in ways that are offensive and abhorrent – on their own property. We don’t believe the answer to ugly expression is less speech, but rather more speech: hopefully others in the community will use this moment as an opportunity to exercise their own First Amendment rights and express messages of tolerance and equality.