A bright red Nazi Party flag waved in front of Joe Love’s Gaston County residence Sunday afternoon, a day after white supremacists orchestrated a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left three dead and dozens injured.
When cellphone-camera toting neighbor Page Braswell stopped in Love’s Forestway Drive driveway, Love vocalized his interpretation of the flag’s meaning.
“This is Nazi (expletive) America,” he told Braswell, in a brief, expletive-laden discussion.
The flag still waved at the home near Mount Holly on Monday morning, although Love sported a calmer demeanor.
He displayed the Nazi symbol earlier this month, he said, after noticing a habit of his other flags getting stolen.
As far as backing Hitler and being a white supremacist and Hitler, I’m not into that.
Joe Love, Gaston County resident with Nazi party flag flying at his house
“I put three different flags out here, which were all Confederate flags,” he said. “Every one of them got stolen. I put this one up, nobody wants it.”
Many of the neighbors seemed indifferent to the swastika, widely regarded as a hate symbol since it was used by Adolf Hitler in the 1920s. Love’s immediate next-door neighbor said she didn’t notice the flag and didn’t have an opinion.
Another neighbor, who refused to provide her name, said she frequently flies a Confederate flag and Love, too, should have the right to display whatever he wants.
After a neighbor told him she flies a rainbow flag in support of the LGBT community, Love called the woman a queer and lesbian and told her to go home.
Michelle Anger, who lives a few doors down, says she detests the symbol but believes Love has a right to fly it.
“I think people have a right to do what they want to do, even if I disagree,” Anger said.
Love said he bought the flag several years ago, but that he doesn’t believe in the symbolism Nazis attached to the swastika, the interpretation most have of the flag in the decades since World War II.
“That used to be a religious symbol in India until Hitler got a hold of it,” Love said. “A lot of people don’t know that … I agree with the symbol as it started out as a religious symbol. But as far as backing Hitler and being a white supremacist and Hitler, I’m not into that.”
Love told The (Gaston) Gazette he “doesn’t hate anybody,” that he’s “not trying to wipe out no race.” But after Braswell told him she flies a rainbow flag in support of the LGBT community, Love called the woman a queer and lesbian and told her to go home.
Love thanked the military for giving him the right to fly the symbol many of today’s veterans fought against.
“A lot of folks died to give me the right to do what I want to do,” Love said. “We don’t support our veterans enough.”
On Monday, he promised to replace the Nazi flag with another Confederate flag, as long as it’ll “make the world a better place.”
He then took the flag down and carried it inside, declining to answer any more questions.