A West Boca Raton, Florida, man has caused a blizzard of controversy after flying a Ku Klux Klan flag above his home and hanging a noose in his front yard.
Additionally, the man – who remains unidentified – placed a recruitment sign in his yard reading, “Members wanted,” though it’s unclear exactly what the message was referring to.
According to CBS Miami, the flag was taken down on Wednesday, although officials in the area ruled that legally he was allowed to keep it up. The man himself has declined requests to speak with the media, but his wife Marla Curly took the time to talk with CBS when a reporter arrived at her home with Curly’s mother, who wanted her daughter to stop the neighborhood’s outrage.
“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. “He still feels the way he feels.”
Curly didn’t quite defend her husband’s actions, acknowledging the flag is offensive and said he raised it “because he’s a boob.” She also said that she doesn’t share her husband’s beliefs and has her own beliefs.
Outside the home, one neighbor named Susan Wantz yelled, “What’s wrong with you people? I’ve been here for 32 years. You don’t belong here. Tan America! 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!”
In a separate report, the Sun Sentinel reported that one neighbor, Margaret Martin, said seeing the flag frightened hear, especially since she grew up hearing about violent episodes between her family, which is black, and the KKK.
Curly dismissed such fears, though, saying the controversy surrounding the flag is overblown and stated the noose was a “bad joke.”
“It's really not a big deal,” she said. “Tell them to stop worrying. The black lady can stop worrying. We're not going to, you know, burn her house or kill her children … It's just not going to happen.”
A reporter for CBS 4 also spoke with Curly, saying, “With the Klan, they’re known to be anti-gay, anti-Jew, anti-black, anti-Latin.” In response, Curly said, “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.”
“The Spanish people put their Spanish flag up and it has meaning,” she added. “It means they are Spanish, we love to be Spanish. Okay, they love to love who they love, they love to be white.”
Meanwhile, local news station WPLG spoke with another West Boca Raton resident claiming to be a KKK member. He asked to remain anonymous, but stated Curly’s husband is a wannabe Klan member, not an official one. He also said the man has no authority to recruit members on behalf of the KKK, and is misleading others about the group’s beliefs.
"I don't share any type of hate beliefs whatsoever," he said. "We're all about trying to preserve what's left of this white race, and that's all."
The flag and noose caught the attention of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Anti-Defamation League, both of which categorized the incident as offensive but protected under the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment protects the right of people to express themselves – even in ways that are offensive and abhorrent – on their own property,” the ACLU stated. “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.”
“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,” added the ADL.