A Confederate flag flying in front of Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson in Loveland on Saturday was removed after the dealership received complaints.
The flag was put up by Lydia’s Patches, a vendor that occasionally sells biker paraphernalia and patches, including some with the Confederate emblem, at Thunder Mountain at Crossroads Boulevard and Interstate 25.
Owner Lydia Morgan stood by her right to display the controversial flag under the First Amendment.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it,” she said. “It’s part of my freedom of speech,” she said in a brief interview before declining to answer further questions from the Coloradoan. “This is just getting blown out of proportion.”
The confederate flag is viewed as a symbol of hate and has come under renewed criticism as cities work to remove Confederate monuments from public areas amid protests and discussions of racial injustice after the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, a Black man, was killed in police custody in Minnesota after a white officer pinned him to the ground and held his knee on Floyd’s neck. The officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired from the department and are facing criminal charges.
Mississippi this week became the last Southern state to remove the confederate emblem from its flag.
Lydia said the flag was up at her booth for less than an hour. “Somebody from the dealership came out and said there were complaints so we said we wouldn’t fly it” and took it down.
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Kyle Hendricks of Dillon noticed the flag while driving on I-25 toward Fort Collins to visit his friend, James Komes.
“It was quite large. It was hard not to notice it,” Hendricks said. “I did a double-take. ‘That’s not really a Confederate flag is it?’ But it was.”
Hendricks told Komes about the flag and they called the dealership to complain. “I told them it’s sending a bad message and being on the Harley-Davidson property, I suggested they take it down because it would look bad for Harley. It’s on their property and they weren’t saying ‘no’ to it.”
Komes said the receptionist apologized and said his complaint was the second they’d received, including from one customer who was so offended she said she was taking her business elsewhere.
Thunder Mountain did not respond to repeated calls from the Coloradoan seeking comment. Several voicemail lines were full and not accepting messages.
Hendricks and Komes visited the store after their phone call to see if Thunder Mountain had taken action. The flag had been furled and leaned up against Lydia’s tent.
Hendricks said “it’s really weird” to see the Confederate flag flying in Colorado. “I felt like I was in Alabama. Confederate patches are sold “out in front of the store to bikers who are shopping in their business and they don’t make a point to say that the Confederate flag is offensive and they’re not in support.
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“I’m not trying to make things bad for Harley, I just wanted that awareness to be brought up.”
Harley-Davidson recently posted a statement on its corporate website denouncing racism, hate and intolerance after racist comments were posted on one of its dealer owner’s Facebook pages. “We will not tolerate this type of behavior in our network,” the statement read.
USA Today contributed to this report.
Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at [email protected] Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.