NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A car parked at an NYPD precinct stationhouse is prominently decorated with a Confederate battle flag on the roof, and the officer who owns the car has been told to park it elsewhere.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported exclusively Friday, the car was spotted at the 34th Precinct
stationhouse, at 4295 Broadway in Washington Heights. It was parked inside the lot authorized for police officers.
A CBS2 viewer sent in the photos of the Dodge Charger with the Confederate flag on the roof, and reported that an officer is the owner.
“I would feel uncomfortable driving that,” said Michael Wynn of Washington Heights. “If I was a cop, I would feel very uncomfortable.”
“It doesn’t bother me either way, it really doesn’t,” a woman said.
But it does indeed bother some people.
“It’s a symbol of racism, really if you think about it,” a man said.
Fans of “The Dukes of Hazzard” will immediately recognize the car as “The General Lee,” a 1969 Dodge Charger known driven by cousins Bo and Luke Duke in the series – and known for its long jumps, chases, and horn that plays the first bars of “Dixie.”
But “The Dukes of Hazzard” was last seen on CBS in February 1985, and attitudes about the Confederate flag have changed in the 30 years since.
Last year, a Long Island Catholic school suspended two students for bringing a Confederate flag to school. Also, NASCAR will not allow “The General Lee” in pre-race ceremonies.
And a Texas ban on Confederate flag specialty plates has gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Civil rights attorney Nadine Strossen said displaying the flag is clearly protected by the First Amendment.
“Government must remain neutral to any viewpoint or idea, and allow the expression of ideas — even if the vast majority of the community considers the idea dangerous, offensive, wrong, and evil,” said Strossen, of New York Law School.
A police source described the cop who owns that replica of “The General Lee” as a “big-time ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ fan,” and said he has only driven it to the precinct on a couple of occasions.
A spokesman said, “due to the fact that its presence at the NYPD facility may be considered offensive and/or inappropriate, the registered owner is being instructed that the car should not be parked on NYPD property.”
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