South Sound News

Seahawks flag with Confederate design stirs up controversy at Tacoma bar

TACOMA, Wash. — A Tacoma restaurant is in hot water with some of the 12's -- over an altered Seahawks flag. A customer says when she took to Facebook to complain about apparent Confederate markings, they kicked her out.

The owner of Tacoma’s West End Pub and Grill says he did not intend for the flag to represent the Confederacy and says this is the first time he's heard a complaint after having it up for four years.

Leah Ford says she’s been to the bar multiple times over the past few years, but Thursday, she suddenly noticed the altered Seahawks flag.

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“I just happened to look up and I saw it there, and I was just really shocked,” Ford said. “To me, I could definitely see the resemblance to something that – you know, for me is not OK. Whether it be oppression, racism, rape, murder, slavery,” she said.

Ford says she asked to talk with a manager.

“I wanted to have a conversation about, 'hey, what do you think this flag represents?' Because I feel that it’s a negative representation of the Seahawks,” Ford said.

But she says instead, a manager suggested she take the issue to social media.

“He said, ‘I’m not taking it down. I’m not getting a ladder. if you have a problem with it you should post about it on Facebook,’” Ford said.

Ford says she did post a picture on Facebook and says that post led to another manager kicking them out before they finished their meals.

“He said, 'No, leave, get out, don’t come back,'” Ford said.

Posts about the incident are getting shared hundreds of times and generating hundreds of comments, with some people posting side-by-side comparisons of the Confederate flag with the Seahawks flag at the bar.

Corey O’Brien is a longtime customer at the bar. He says he’s half-black and doesn’t see a problem with the Hawks flag.

“I see the Seahawks flag with the X through it. That’s been here for four years; no one has said anything about it,” he said. “This is not a racist bar.”

Adam Walker is another customer.

“I can definitely see a resemblance. You’d be arguing against logic if you were to say there was no resemblance at all,” Walker said.

The bar owner – who didn’t want to talk on camera – tells KIRO7 he never intended this flag to be connected to the Confederate flag in any way. But says he decided to take it down to avoid the controversy.

Ford says she hopes the dialogue will continue.

“It’s great he took it down. It’s sad we weren’t able to have a conversation,” she said. “There are so many times when people don’t have a voice. And when you have an opportunity to speak out, you absolutely should.”