At the end of the April Rochester Park Board meeting, board President Linnea Archer commented on the addition of an American flag to a police memorial planned as part of Soldiers Field Park.
Archer said that while many see the flag as patriotic, there are others who see it as a sign of injustice.
Archer said she wanted to make sure her fellow Park Board members keep in mind that symbols, such as flags, can be well-intentioned and still cause conflict.
“I know for myself when I lived in a different area of the country, the American flag was used as a hateful thing,” she said.
“I know it’s not intended that way,” Archer said of the local park flags.
“With that, I appreciate our partnerships with all the people, including the law enforcement organizations and their contributions to the park and our community.” she added.
Video of Archer's comments created a furor on social media.
Watch the clip:
Archer said she wanted to make sure her fellow Park Board members keep in mind that symbols, such as flags, can be well-intentioned and still cause conflict for people who might not feel represented in the community.
The majority of the comments on Facebook’s Spotted in Rochester group questioned Archer's position on the board, and some demanded that she be removed. But others said Archer was trying to make a point.
"We of course need the American flag at a soldier’s memorial," Anastasia Hopkins Folpe wrote. "But we should also be open to this critique of American colonialism."
Park Board member Dick Dale, a retired 30-year Rochester police officer, said he was offended by Archer’s comments, but wouldn’t go so far as asking that she be removed from her position.
“I’m not sure where she was coming from,” he said. “Is it offensive that some people see that? A lot of people have died to have that flag up.”
While Archer might have had a point to make, bringing the subject up as a last-minute item at the end of a board meeting was simply bad timing and no doubt led to knee-jerk social media reactions.
There's no doubt the flag belongs in front of a law enforcement memorial (and other public properties, such as police stations and city halls). And there's no doubt the flag means different things to different people, and some of those meanings are negative; yet it still remains the symbol of our country and its freedoms, and the best hope to oppressed people worldwide.
People overreacted to some poorly expressed comments by Archer, who likely meant well but really fumbled the ball in whatever purpose she was hoping to accomplish.