Columbus developer replaces US and Italian flags with large Trump 2024 campaign flag

A Columbus developer that hung a giant American flag on one of its apartment complexes in 2020 to protest coronavirus business shutdowns has replaced an American flag at another property it owns with a campaign banner for former President Donald Trump.

Preferred Living owns a tiny triangular plot of land at Trabue Road and McKinley Avenue in a part of Franklin Township known as San Margherita. Until recently, a flagpole at the corner flew a large U.S. flag and a smaller Italian flag. The latter, along with a large metal sign erected there with the name San Margherita, were a nod to the Italian immigrants who settled there in the early 20th century to work for the nearby Marble Cliff Quarry Company.

The removal of the American flag, in particular, has prompted online complaints, a spate of negative Google reviews for Preferred Living and concerns from residents of two adjacent apartment complexes owned by another company that demands its residents refrain from visible political statements.

A parcel of land at Trabue and McKinley roads in the unofficial San Margherita neighborhood on the border of Franklin and Norwich townships that used to fly a large American flag with a small Italian flag under it in honor of the Italiam immigrants who settled there to work in the nearby quarry now flies a flag for former President Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign.

"I think it's putting a political affiliation on the entire complex," said Lizzie Jackson, who lives at the Belmont House apartments. "I don't like that I have to tell visitors, 'Turn left at the giant Trump flag.'"

The Dispatch left voicemail messages for a Preferred Living spokeswoman Sunday and Monday but has not heard back from the company.

It's hard to tell from the ground how large the flag is, but Jackson estimated it as "a couple car-lengths width." The blue flag has the words "Trump 2024" and the Republican candidate's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Residents of Belmont House and the Hanover Park apartments next door received an email Saturday from 601 West, the company overseeing their complexes, that acknowledged complaints about the American flag being removed for the Trump campaign flag, but added that it "was rightfully put up by the owners of the parcel."

The email directed residents of Belmont House and Hanover Park who had concerns to contact Preferred Living.

This 2023 photo from the Franklin County Auditor's Office website shows the American flag flying on the triangular parcel of land owned by Preferred Living where a flag pole that once flew the American flag and a small Italian flag now hoists a giant banner for former President Donald Trump's 2024 campaign.
This 2023 photo from the Franklin County Auditor's Office website shows the American flag flying on the triangular parcel of land owned by Preferred Living where a flag pole that once flew the American flag and a small Italian flag now hoists a giant banner for former President Donald Trump's 2024 campaign.

Online, concerns have piled up on Reddit and other social media about the removal of the American flag. Critics of the decision have pulled down Preferred Living's average rating on Google to 2.3.

"I couldn’t help but notice today that the American flag ... has been replaced with a Trump flag. I find this offensive and insulting to our country and all the residents that live here," one person said. "It should be taken down and the American flag that is a symbol for our country regardless of your political party should be raised up instead. So disrespectful."

"What do you have against the American flag? Disgusting," wrote another.

In May 2020, as nonessential Ohio businesses were in their second month of a state-ordered shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Preferred Living hung a 30-foot-by-60-foot American flag on the side of an apartment building under construction on Henderson Road.

“We are worried about the people’s individual civil liberties and the forced denial of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness justified by short-term safety," Mindy Greer, a spokeswoman for Preferred Living, told The Dispatch at the time.

The flag was accompanied by a quotation from Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

“For us, both the sign and flag say, ’We love America, the freedoms and liberties of being an American, and we 100% support its people,’” Greer said in 2020.

rvitale@dispatch.com

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Trump flag replaces American flag near Columbus West Side apartments

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