LACONIA — When the stars and bars of Confederacy fluttered in the breeze at Joe & Marc's Used Appliances at 653 Main St. this week, several residents looked askance at a symbol they believe cast a dark shadow on downtown.
"The flag is a glaringly ugly mark on our downtown," Azra Karabegovic wrote in a letter to The Laconia Daily Sun, "because it is unacceptable for such a symbol of racism to fly in Laconia."
Marc Quinn, the partner of Joe Emmonds in the appliance store, said that he chose to fly the flag, which he said was a gift from a representative of NASCAR.
"We're representing NASCAR," he said, adding that "NASCAR originally started in the South."
City Manager Scott Myers said that he spotted the flag while fetching his lunch and returned to office to find a resident had called to complain about it. He then called at the store and explained that by hosting street festivals, lighting its street trees the city was offering a warm welcome to downtown without provoking controversy or arousing dissension.
"I requested they take down the flag on behalf of the community," he said.
Dan Maltais, who owns an operates Thrifty's, a secondhand store that shares an entryway with the appliance dealership, said that although the flag was taken down, it was raised again later the same afternoon. He said he went next door and suggested that displaying the Confederate is "bad for their business. They're driving away half their customers. It's stupid. The stick just hasn't hit them in the head yet."
Quinn said yesterday, "We called Concord and they told us we had a right, a constitutional right, to fly the flag. It's not hurting anybody. We're not cutting anybody down."
He said displaying the flag would not hurt their business.
"It's got the red, white and blue," he said. "We're still patriotic and we're not rednecks."
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