An Ohio police chief isn’t really addressing the controversy that has unfolded since he was seen in photos wearing a Confederate-flag vest while vacationing in South Dakota, WKYC reports.
Port Clinton Police Chief Robert Hickman said that he doesn’t “look at the Confederate flag as a racist symbol,” with some residents defending him, saying he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body.
“I think he was just wearing a shirt,” Port Clinton resident Bryan Meek told the news station. “Out having a good time one day, and that is basically it.
“I have known Rob since before kindergarten, basically my whole life,” he added. “And I could tell you that there is not a racist bone in his body.”
However, some aren’t very impressed. Sandusky, Ohio, NAACP President Jim Jackson told the Sandusky Register that the attire was inappropriate in light of the controversy surrounding the flag, particularly since the Charleston, S.C., church shooting.
“There are likely very few Americans who don’t understand that symbol,” Jackson told the news site. “You can’t be ignorant because every individual in America understands what that flag means.
“With all of the things that have transpired in the news recently, you have to know what that flag represents,” Jackson continued.
Hickman’s vest has also inadvertently drawn attention to his wife, Roseann, who is running for City Council and was also seen in a photo sticking up her middle finger in a joking gesture.
Roseann Hickman said, “I will not discuss my personal Facebook page, which has a privacy setting for my friends only,” in response to the Register’s questions surrounding the controversial photo.
According to WKYC, the Hickmans eventually released a statement insisting, “Our private life is not open for discussion.”