A Central Iowa man displaying Nazi and Confederate art in his yard — who is sorry about the “luck” of Holocaust victims — was besieged by protesters over the weekend.
Activists gathered outside the home of William Stark over the weekend to voice objection to right-wing hate symbols including swastikas and Confederate flags he put on display last week, according to KCCI News in Des Moines.
Some of his art work, including paintings of Nazi and rebel flags, had been defaced with spray paint. The words “Nazi scum” were painted onto one of his vehicles.
A pickup truck reportedly belonging to Stark’s family sped off when camera crews arrived Saturday. One of the truck’s occupants, which appeared to be a woman, made an obscene hand gesture before the vehicle peeled away.
Last week, before protesters arrived, Stark told CBS there are different ways to interpret the right-wing hate symbols in front of his house.
“People don’t know what their history is, they’ve turned different things into different things,” he said, wearing a cowboy adorned by confederate flags.
He also said swastikas “could be religious.”
While variations of the swastika symbol have taken on different historical contexts, Stark’s painting were clear replicas of the red, white and black flags flown by Nazi Germany prior to and during World War II. Bigotry and genocide, particularly with regards to anti-semitism, were hallmarks of the Nazi agenda.
The Confederate flag took on multiple meanings as well during the Civil War, but it, too, stood as a symbol of white nationalism representing states fighting for their perceived right to enslave black people.
Saturday’s protest reportedly consisted of 30 people, including at least one student from a racially diverse grade school near Stark’s home. Stark had a message for locals who object to his choice of expression.
“Well I’m sorry for them people, but go learn your history,” he told CBS last week.
Stark also offered a passive-aggressive non-apology to Holocaust survivors who take offense to the way he decorates his yard.
“I’m sorry for their luck, but I don’t mean nothing by it,” he told the Des Moines Register last week.
Des Moines Police Department Sgt. Paul Parizek believes the people have spoken in the matter of Stark’s art work.
“When you band together as a community to face these types of issues head on, there’s strength in numbers,” he said.