The Confederate flag waves along dozens of others outside the Agora flag shop on Parc Avenue, but for Desirée Pollak-Garcia it’s not like any other flag.
Pollak-Garcia questioned the owner’s son about why he was selling the flag, while recording the conversation on her cellphone.
In the video, Pollak-Garcia appears upset: “I have a problem with the f—ing confederate flag flying because it’s a f—ing racist flag. With everything that’s happening in Charlottesville right now, this is what you’re doing?” she asks Chris Karidogiannis, the owner’s son, as he also films her in return.
“It’s not a racist flag. You need to get your facts straight. You’re a very confused person,” Karidogiannis replied.
Pollak-Garcia says she called police when Karidogiannis became aggressive and followed her as she was walking away.
“They didn’t seem to really care about that, just started lecturing me about what countries hate other countries and why he can sell that flag,” Pollak-Garcia said of her interaction with police.
For his part, Karidogiannis says there’s always someone getting upset over one flag or another.
Earlier on Monday, he says, a group of women tried to take the flag down.
“Ultimately we’re a flag store. It’s not illegal to sell something that people want,” Karidogiannis told Global News.
Over the weekend during the Charlottesville protests in the United States, white nationalist groups were using the flag as a symbol of their beliefs.
Concordia University professor Graham Dodds is an expert on U.S. politics.
Dodds says the flag has a different meaning for different people, but it also has a long history as an emblem of Southern pride.
“From the civil rights movement onward, it’s not been just sort of innocuous Southern pride. It’s been an emblem of the defeated cause of slavery and more broadly of racism,” Dodds told Global News.
Karidogiannis says his intention was not to provoke, but to educate.
“Until people learn the history and take back these symbols, we’ll never own them. They’ll never be true to what they were.”
Pollak-Garcia doesn’t buy that argument.
“I think he was after controversy. I believe he must be aligned with those ideals if he would ever wave a flag like that. There’s no other reason to do that.”
She wants a written apology and is demanding the flag be taken down.
Karidogiannis insists the flag will remain.