SOUTHBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - A Southbridge man who drew the ire of his neighbors when he flew a Nazi flag on his property — only to replace it with a Confederate flag when confronted, said his display is misunderstood.
Paul Gibeault, 65, took down the Nazi flag Monday after a concerned citizen, Brian Harvard, posted a photo to the town’s Facebook page that received an overwhelmingly negative response.
Harvard said he decided to take action when a neighbor let him know about the display.
“I couldn’t believe it so I had to see it for myself and I’m just shocked and disgusted,” he said.
Soon after the post, the first flag was then replaced with a Confederate banner that reads, “Don’t tread on me.”
Neighbors say both flags are disturbing.
“What we need to see in the country is more unity,” said neighbor Ramon Pelaez.
But Gibeault says he is a veteran who loves America thinks he is being misunderstood by his neighbors.
“This was just to wake people up a little bit and people are taking it out of context- it could be taken as a religious symbol,” Gibeault said. “Germany was a good country in the beginning.”
Gibeault added that he believes illegal immigration is ruining the country and said, “I’m not supporting Hitler. But this country will become like Nazi Germany if we keep traveling down this road we’re on.”
Harvard says he does not buy into Gibeault’s explanation.
“I think it is a strange way to reflect that opinion,” he said. “I just don’t want Nazis in my town or in my neighborhood.”
Gibeault’s name and address were posted to the Facebook page along with the photo and now he says he is beginning to feel threatened.
That’s not what Harvard wants.
“I repeatedly said that I want no action taken against him,” he said. “This is not a call for violence.”
Local police say they are surveilling the area due to complaints.
Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson said that while the display is inappropriate and certainly offensive to many, it is not illegal.
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