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SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco man who said he was making a social comment on the presidential election by flying a Nazi flag at his home Wednesday was confronted by angry neighbors, including a woman whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors.
Frederick Roeber, a retired 48-year-old, said he did not like Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims and Mexican immigrants during the Republican candidate’s campaign against Hillary Clinton. When Trump won Tuesday’s election, Roeber flew the Nazi flag on his property.
I am hoping people get that this is a political statement, and that I’m not a Nazi supporter,” Roeber told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m a little afraid that neighbors will get the wrong idea.”
The attempt at social commentary backfired.
Francine Miller, whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, lives across the street from the home. When she spotted the flag, she headed straight over for a stern chat with her neighbor.
“It was a comment on our new president-elect,” Roeber attempted to explain to Miller in a video published on the Chronicle website. He added that he compares Trump to Benito Mussolini, known as Il Duce, but that “Italians did not have as good a flag” to represent the country.
“I can see where you are coming from, but that is really the wrong impression,” Miller said on the video. “It makes it look like you are supportive of Nazis. As your neighbor, I don’t think it’s funny.”
Roeber, conceding the point, said he would take the flag down. He replaced it with a California Pride flag.
The exchange was captured on video and posted to the Chronicle’s website.
Roeber said he collects flags and found the Nazi flag online. He said he thought that flying it “would be a pointed comment about Trump.”
On his Facebook page, Roeber apologized, writing “I am not a Nazi, nor a Nazi sympathizer.”
“I now understand that many people were shocked and hurt by my political statement, and I truly apologize for the distress I caused,” he wrote.