- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A torrent of complaints has forced a Minnesota man to lower his Nazi flag.

Residents of the Pleasant Street neighborhood in Lauderdale first noticed the flag in Robert Walter’s yard on Wednesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/29mag4b ). The flag was flying next door to a Jewish family’s home.

Neighbor Ben Holsen said the Jewish family was terribly afraid. He said he called City Hall but was told there was nothing anyone could do.

He posted a picture of the flag on his Facebook page, stirring a flood of reaction. Most people expressed anger and sorrow, although some pointed out it’s not illegal to hoist such a flag on private property.

Walter told the Star Tribune on Friday that he’s “not no skinhead neo-Nazi guy.” He ordered the flag through the mail and put it up because he likes the pattern, he said. He added that the flag is a German navy flag and the navy wasn’t responsible for rounding up Jews.

Still, he took the flag down because he was receiving multiple calls from people complaining, he said.

City Administrator Heath Butkowski said the city hasn’t had any previous problems with Walter and no one plans to confront him about the flag. She said Walter has a First Amendment right to fly it.

“I feel disappointed in my city,” Holsen, the neighbor, said. “You had multiple neighbors raising a concern … most of them fearing for their safety.”

Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, released a statement Friday calling the flag a “hateful display.” He said the council stands with Jewish and non-Jewish communities that are disgusted and outraged by what he called a symbol of genocide and tyranny.

Lauderdale is a city of about 2,400 people located in the middle of the Twin Cities in Ramsey County.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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