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black lives matter utah leader lex scott calls american flag a hate symbol
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Black Lives Matter Utah leader stands by American flag comments

Lex Scott, Black Lives Matter Utah founder, leads a chant during a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 16, 2021. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The leader of a Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter first pledged to take down the group’s Facebook page, after receiving extensive backlash over comments that described the American flag as a “symbol of hatred,” before later leaving it up with new posts and controls on who can comment there. 

And despite the backlash, she stands by what she wrote.

Black Lives Matter Utah leader: Flag is symbol of hatred

Lex Scott, who leads the Black Lives Matter Utah chapter, shared a post on July 4 calling the flag a symbol of hatred and describing those who fly the flag as racist. The chapter is not affiliated with the national Black Lives Matter organization. 

“When we Black Americans see this flag we know the person flying it is not safe to be around,” the Facebook post stated. “When we see this flag we know the person flying it is a racist. When we see this flag we know that the person flying it lives in a different American than we do. When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred.” 

The post went viral, drawing uproar and attention from all over the country. 

Scott told KSL NewsRadio people need to understand her perspective. 

“Every interaction that I have had with a racist, they are holding an American flag. What would you think if you were me?” she said on Tuesday.

“Ask themselves if they truly care about the American flag, why have they never spoken up about hate groups using it as a hate symbol?” she continued.

Backlash from conservative groups, officials 

Scott said she began receiving hundreds of calls, online comments and messages after national outlets, including Fox News, picked up the story about her post. 

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, who is the only person of color to represent Utah in Congress, released a statement Thursday criticizing Scott’s position. 

“According to BLM Utah, flying the American flag is now racist and hateful,” Owens wrote. “What an insult to those who have fought, served, and died for our freedoms.” 

Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, a former Utah congressman and a contributor to Fox News, tweeted a link to the network’s coverage on the issue critical of Scott.

“Disgusting, more divisive, and flat out wrong,” Chaffetz wrote Thursday.

“We receive hate messages daily” 

Later in the day Thursday, Scott posted more about her feelings and said it would be “our last statement about this matter.” 

“I stand by my words,” Scott wrote. “You show up for a protest and hundreds of armed white men show up. They have guns, they yell racial slurs at you, they are carrying and wearing American flags. I run over 50 Facebook groups. We receive hate messages daily. When you click on the profiles of the people sending these messages their profiles are filled with American Flags.” 

She brought up other examples of hate groups carrying American flags, as well as rioters who assaulted the US Capitol on January 6. 

“I feel fear. That is not up for debate. I feel like the person flying it is racist, because every racist that I have come in contact with is either wearing that flag or flying that flag,” she continued. “If you truly loved that symbol, if you did not believe that it stood for racism, then why no outrage when it is used in this way.” 

Reaction from other groups

Not all Black Utahns agree with the opinion. Other Black Lives Matter groups in the state distanced themselves from the comments.

“My grandparents are veterans, my father is a veteran, so when she says stuff like that about the American flag — we live in America, not in any other country. What she says is not the end all be all,” said Jacarri Kelley with the Northern Utah Black Lives Matter chapter in an interview with KSL NewsRadio.

“The American Flag, do I think it’s racist? No. Do I think its past has very racist tendencies? Yes. We all do,” Kelley said.  

Some of Black Lives Matter Utah’s own chapter members posted comments taking issue with Scott’s stance on the flag as well. 

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