After a city inspector warned a store to remove US military flags, a customer got upset. Video then surfaced, showing the inspector getting in the customer’s face, and outrage erupted.
Melinda Power, a code inspector in Jacksonville, Florida, entered Jaguar Power Sports with her supervisor to issue a warning citation, telling the store to remove its rooftop flags — representing each branch of the military — because she said it violated city code, WJAX-TV reported. Power told the business to correct the violation or risk “prosecution for the offense,” which upset the staff.
“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 report. “We felt like it was a personal attack,” she added. According to employees of the store, which also flies two American flags and a Jacksonville Jaguars flag, a customer, who happened to be a military veteran, overheard Power’s warning and was also upset by it. When he decided to say something, Melinda Power got in his face. A surveillance video captured the confrontation.
“What did you do for this country?” Power asked the combat veteran, according to employee Katie Klasse, who was present at the time. The veteran, who was not identified by name, responded, saying he took three bullets and almost lost his leg for his country. Klasse said that he also told Power he was retired and a veteran. Klasse said Power then got in his face and exclaimed, “You did nothing for this country,” as the footage shows her thrusting her finger in the man’s face.
Employees said Power was so disruptive and disrespectful to the veteran that they asked her to leave, but things were far from over. In a since-deleted Facebook post, Melinda Power allegedly recalled the incident differently, saying she thought the customer had asked her, “Do you know what I did?” and she responded, “Nothing.” But, she also allegedly admitted, “I should never have been unprofessional and disrespectful period. Sincerely apologize,” adding that her father, husband, and son-in-law have all served and that she has “the utmost respect for the military.”
It was too little too late, though. As the video of the inspector getting in the veteran’s face surfaced, outrage ensued, and City Hall was inundated with calls about the citation with 50 calls taken in the first hour of business alone — most of which called for the inspector’s termination. In addition to the calls, military veterans fumed in front of news cameras outside Jaguar Power Sports.
The overall consensus of the veterans was that 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, and it would seem the mayor agreed. “What I saw reported is 100 percent inconsistent with how I expect every city employee to interact with our citizens,” he said, adding that both Power and her supervisor were “placed on leave.”
“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,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry explained. “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.”
The mayor also said “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.” He added that his “team is working with the city’s Office of General Counsel to bring clarity to the relevant city laws.”
The veteran involved in the confrontation said he’s pleased that the mayor responded, but he’d like Melinda Power to apologize to the veteran community — not necessarily to him, though. Further showing his character, he added that he “doesn’t want anyone to lose their job.” Jaguar Power Sports manager Marcy Myer shared his sentiments, saying she didn’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,” Moyer explained. “That was not the purpose of this. It was to bring awareness and hope that someone would not treat someone else that way.” Indeed, this incident serves as a reminder that we should handle disagreements by still showing respect for one another. Luckily, the veteran and the store staff showed us how that’s done when the city inspector failed miserably to do so.