SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Black Lives Matter Utah is making national headlines after calling American flag holders racist. The group’s social media post is sparking major controversy putting all eyes on Utah.
While the American flag is meant to represent freedom, dignity, and opportunity for all, the founder of Black Lives Matter Utah doesn’t believe that holds true today.
Black Lives Matter Utah posted a picture of the American flag with a caption that prompted a national dialogue about what the flag really means.
“When we Black Americans see this flag we know the person flying it is not safe to be around. When we see this flag we know the person flying it is a racist. When we see this flag we know that the person flying it lives in a different America then we do. When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred,” the social media post says.
“I don’t take it back because some of us live in a different America…we really do. We don’t have the same experience as the people who are flying that [flag],” founder Lex Scott explains.
Scott is the one who wrote that post causing a flurry on social media.
“I watched a bunch of white supremist march through Philadelphia with American flags and then I waited for outrage. No outrage came… which made me angry. Then I realized the Kul Klux Klan marches with that flag, patriot front, proud boys, oath keepers, the three percenters, and I’ve never heard outrage about them using the flag for hate… so I said what a lot of us are thinking,” states Scott.
Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen argues the meaning behind the flag doesn’t change regardless of who is holding it.
“To focus in on these small fringe groups and try to throw out the flags because of these small fringe groups is absolutely asinine,” Jorgensen shares.
“We can’t control what fringe groups pick up these flags and march with them. We can’t pick who displays them where, but we can stand with people and fight against these specific instances, but we have to point them out. We can’t make a blanket statement and say the American flag is bad because a bad person carried it,” continues Jorgensen.
However, Black Lives Matter Utah said it stands by its belief that the flag is radicalized.
“Every time we have a protest we are surrounded by armed white men with guns and American flags who scream racial slurs at us. Every time we receive hate mail and death threats, they come from a profile picture with an American flag. Every time we receive any hatred it comes from someone flying an American flag. And I want people to ask themselves ‘how would you feel about the American flag if every person that hated you was flying that flag?’ Scott asks.
The social media post is prompting a mixed response from both sides of the political spectrum.
“We made a sweeping generalization about people that fly that flag, just like they make a sweeping generalization about Black Lives Matter all the time. However, Black Lives Matter doesn’t affect the entire United States of America. The American flag is in every school, every post office, every government building. Everyday black Americans have to see that flag and it should stand for us. Regular Americans don’t have to see BLM every day and I’m sure they’re thankful for that… but we do have to see that flag and we don’t want it used against us,” Scott explains.
“We believe that our country is the greatest country there ever has been and we will continue to work for it. Like I’ve said before, yes there are bad things that have happened and things that have tarnished our history but that doesn’t make the whole lot bad, and we will continue to work forward. But it’s that divisive rhetoric…it’s that tearing down mentality that we have to get rid of,” Jorgensen says.
“Our flag represents the greatest country in the history of the world. It stands for freedom and opportunity for all. It has stood the test of time as a beacon to the free and oppressed and too many lives have been lost to preserve that symbol and all it stands for. I refuse to let any white supremacy or Black Lives Matter group change that,” states Governor Cox.