Confederate flag removed from abandoned water tower in Estherwood

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 23:36:03-04

ESTHERWOOD — A Confederate flag that was hanging on an abandoned water tower in the Village of Estherwood has been taken down.

The words "Trump 2020" were also spray-painted alongside the flag on the tower.

The village owns the water tower, but it hasn't been in use for more than 10 years. Meanwhile, village officials are looking at options to demolish it.

The flag and graffiti appeared Monday; authorities believe it was done sometime overnight.

Local business owner James Farris says the tower's new look caused quite a stir. He received the call Monday. "'You'll never guess what's on the water tower. Did you see it?' I said, 'No. I was out there today; I didn't see anything.' And then, I was told what it was, and I got a picture, and that instantly infuriated me," said Farris.

Mayor Don Popp initially said they needed assistance in removing the flag because it was a hazard.

Ultimately, Police Chief Wayne Welsh took the matter in his own hands. He climbed the deteriorating tower while wasps surrounded his every move.

Once the chief made it to the top, he was able to untie the flag as people below cheered him on.

"I was just nervous, and it was windy up there," said Welsh. "I was worried about the wasps, but it was alright after that. You just keep climbing and climbing until you get to the top."

Mayor Popp was among those who were relieved to see it come down, saying the Confederate flag isn't a representation of the village.

"I'm so embarrassed," said Popp. "I really am, and I think the majority of people here in Estherwood are embarrassed also. I know my police are."

The chief says they don’t support what the flag symbolizes.

"It's a racist flag up there, and we don't want that in our town, being broadcast to everybody," said Welsh. "So, it filled my deed to climb up there and take it down."

Some are hoping the person responsible faces the consequences.

"Whoever did that is a coward," said Farris. "If they were brave enough to go up there, which I think that is stupidity, not bravery, they should be brave enough to come and get it down or say that they did it."
(*Farris was interviewed before the flag was removed.)

According to police, an 18-year-old was cited for criminal trespassing. Other charges are possible as the investigation remains ongoing.

As for the graffiti, the chief says that will be their next project, but he's hoping the tower is taken down before he has to go back up there.

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