BERKELEY, Calif. - In the wake of the violence at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, the mayor of Berkeley is now asking businesses and residents to fly the American flag.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin is encouraging people to fly 'Old Glory' in a show of patriotism and as a reminder that the symbol of this nation doesn't belong to any one group.
"We need to reclaim the flag and what it stands for. For me it stands for freedom. It stands for democracy. It stands for inclusivity. Unfortunately what we've seen, over the past few years and particularly on [Jan. 6], are people using the flag to subvert its message and to subvert our democracy," Arreguin told KTVU's The Four, on Friday.
The mayor of one of the Bay Area's historically more liberal cities, said, like many of us who watched the Capitol being breached on live television, that he saw the flag being carried by white supremacists, sometimes alongside the Confederate flag and also being used as a weapon.
"We need to show our pride in our country and we need to move forward collectively as a unified country," the mayor said.
The mayor put out the call to fly flags this week and said he's already noticing residents and businesses show their patriotism.
"We wanted to do this around the inauguration of our new president but also in response to the violence that we saw in Washington D.C.," Arreguin said.
The mayor stressed the importance of reclaiming the values of the country and how the flag is a symbol of those values.
However, Berkeley being Berkeley, there were skeptics. In the mayor's words: "Of course in Berkeley, everyone has an opinion."
He said some people felt funny about flying the stars and stripes because of what the American flag has meant historically and on a global scale with U.S. participation in foreign wars.
"That's all the more reason we should take this step to reclaim our flag. White nationalists and extremist groups, they don't own the flag. Donald Trump doesn't own the flag. This is our flag," he said.
Arreguin said the American flag is representative of all people in the entire country. To him, flying the flag now is a way of expressing pride and optimism in the country's future.