Surveillance video captured city inspector Melinda Power getting in the face of the customer at Jaguar Power Sports on Blanding Boulevard in Jacksonville Florida earlier this week.
Employees told News4Jax that a Jacksonville city inspector walked into a Cedar Hills Estate business Monday to issue a warning citation over the display of military flags outside of the store and also confirmed she insulted a customer who turned out to be a military veteran.
Power asked the Veteran ‘What did you do for this country?’ to which he replied, ‘I took three bullets to the leg. I almost lost my life for this country. I’m retired. I’m a veteran.’ She then proceeds to get in his face this close and says, ‘You did nothing for this country,’” store employee Katie Klasse confirmed.
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Posted by Jaguar Power Sports on Monday, April 16, 2018
Managers of the store later said that despite the citation the flags were going to remain flying.
About 5 hours later the mayor’s office got wind of what had happened and the mayor quickly took to Twitter.
1. I Have directed city staff that military flags should be treated same as US flag. Let them fly. I Have reached out to the business owner & will review employee procedures. COJ employees r expected to be respectful of our customers – you, the people of Jacksonville.
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) April 16, 2018
2. We support our military and veterans, and we appreciate businesses who honor their service.
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) April 16, 2018
The managers were able to rip up the warning citation and the flags will be able to continue to fly on the roof of Jaguar Power Sports without the business being cited or fined.
Mayor Curry’s chief of staff Brian Huges then issued a message:
“We are disturbed by some of the claims made about a City employee and are reviewing the facts. We are also reviewing the current ordinances regarding flags and signs to ensure accurate information was shared. The business was issued a warning, and was not fined. Warnings are issued to provide property owners information about a possible violation, and corrective action.
“I have contacted the dealership and provided the owner with the mayor’s contact information for them to discuss directly. Mayor Curry and his administration respect and appreciate those in uniform who have served and continue to serve our community, and our country.”
Veterans in the area later called for Power to be fired from her job. And I think we can all agree with that. A person who reacts in the way she reacted to that Veteran customer should never be entrusted to hold any position of power, especially government power.
Although the incident is still being investigated Power was suspended from her job until the final outcome of this whole mess can be sorted out.
Here is more on this story via News 4 Jax:
“The city of Jacksonville has suspended a code inspector who sparked controversy Monday after she issued a warning citation to a Westside business over military flags and then was caught on surveillance video in a confrontation with a customer who objected to the citation.
The inspector’s supervisor, who was present during the incident, has also been suspended, Mayor Lenny Curry said Tuesday.
Melinda Power came under fire after she cited Jaguar Power Sports for a rooftop display, which includes two United States flags, a Jacksonville Jaguars flag and flags representing every branch of the military.
A Facebook video from an employee at the business describing the confrontation that followed has gone viral with more than 5 million views.
Employees said a customer, who happened to be a wounded warrior, overheard Power issuing the citation and got upset. They said when he objected, she insulted him, saying he “did nothing for this country.”
He told her he took three bullets in the leg while serving in the military.
WATCH: Surveillance video shows city inspector confront veteran
“You don’t have to listen. You don’t have to hear anything. If you watch the same video, her body language says it all,” sales manager Marcy Moyer said. “There is nothing polite. There is nothing unassertive about her behavior.”
According to a statement from Curry, it was the confrontation that has Power in hot water with the city:
“Employees of the city of Jacksonville are the servants of taxpayers who have a duty to enforce our laws and regulations. I expect every one of them to do that job in a manner that is respectful and reflects the privilege we all have to serve this great city. What I saw reported is 100 percent inconsistent with how I expect every city employee to interact with our citizens.
I have ordered a review of the actions of the employee and pending the completion of that review, the employee and her supervisor have been placed on leave. Today I will ask every manager of city departments to review our procedures with each city employee. Once a review of the actions in this matter is complete, appropriate corrective action will be enforced for any wrongdoing.
As the son and grandson of military veterans, and the mayor of a city with a proud history of commitment to our nation’s defense, I will not tolerate disparagement or disrespect of the men and women who serve or served. On behalf of the City of Jacksonville I apologize to veterans and service members who are rightly troubled by the events that have been reported.
While current ordinance does not address residents or businesses displaying military flags, I will not allow any citation of those who demonstrate their support for the Armed Forces. My team is working with the city’s Office of General Counsel to bring clarity to the relevant city laws.”
Curry told News4Jax on Tuesday that he personally apologized to the veteran and the business owners.
“I expect when they’re interacting with business owners, citizens and veterans to treat them with dignity and respect,” Curry said. “It appears based on what I’ve seen up to this point, that’s not what happened yesterday.”
Curry said that as the city looks at the incident and reviews ordinances in place, every business and resident in Jacksonville can fly a military or American flag.
“What’s most important here is let’s boil this down: I expect city employees to respect the American flag, to respect flags of the branches of the United States military,” Curry said.
Power, who has been attacked on social media across the country over the incident, apologized Monday night in a Facebook post that was later removed from her page.
Power described the incident more as a misunderstanding, saying she thought the customer had asked, “Do you know what I did?” And that she responded, “Nothing.”
She said tempers flared after that, adding: “I should never have been unprofessional and disrespectful period. Sincerely apologize.”
Power also said in the post that her father, husband and son-in-law have all served in the military and that she has “the utmost respect for the military.”
Moyer said Power was originally at the shop because the business had signs displayed too close to a sidewalk. She said they’ve been “slapped on the wrist” for marketing before, but it was the warning over the flags that set off the firestorm.
As the incident became national news, members of the Jacksonville community stopped to visit Jaguar Power Sports on Tuesday.
They brought pizza, fruit, coffee and plenty of “thank yous.”
The phones also rang off the hook at the business Tuesday as support poured in.
“The story is not only shameful, it is embarrassing,” said David Ward, with B&W Marine Construction. “I’m just tired of seeing the military under attack.”
Veteran Bob Goggin said what he saw on the news was “totally wrong.”
“I rode over from Mayport to thank them for supporting the military,” Goggin said.
Moyer said she never expected the swell of community support.
She said that within hours of posting the video, city leaders, including Curry, apologized and said the flags were welcome.
The customer who got into the confrontation with Power, who asked not to be identified, told News4Jax that he is happy the mayor responded. He said he would like Power to apologize to the veteran community, not necessarily to him. He added that he “doesn’t want anyone to lose their job.”
Moyer also said she doesn’t want to see Power fired, saying anyone can have a bad day and that the woman’s poor behavior was a bad representation of hte city of Jacksonville.
“How they’re going to deal with their employee is going to be on them,” Moyer said. “I know that our customer base would love to see me say, ‘Fire her,’ but I hate to see anybody lose their job. That was not the purpose of this. It was to bring awareness and hope that someone would not treat someone else that way.”
Moyer said the threats lodged against Power are uncalled for.
“Leave this woman alone. Let the city of Jacksonville do their job and (do) what they see fit,” Moyer said. “It is their employee to deal with. We brought it to their attention and they are definitely addressing it.”
Councilman Garrett Dennis, who represents the area where the business is located, said it appears from the video that Power was in the wrong, but that she still deserves a fair investigation.
“We’ve gotten calls and emails from as far away as California from this incident, and that is unfortunate,” Dennis said. “I think this is a situation where we had an overzealous city employee applying the law inappropriately.”
Curry said discipline for the incident could include termination but that would come after a thorough investigation and that Power and her supervisor are entitled to due process.”