Confederate flag sparks controversy in Petaluma neighborhood

PETALUMA, Calif. (KTVU) - On a quiet, neighborhood street in Petaluma, the stars and stripes are now flying in a front yard.

But for the past two days what was flying there was the confederate flag, and that made many neighbors angry.

"The Confederate flag is a symbol of hatred and slavery and racism and I'd like us to be done with that," said resident Rachel Kaplan.

"It didn't have a place in our community. And he was making a statement because it was a new flag," said Janice Cader-Thompson, a neighbor and former city councilwoman.

The man who is causing the uproar, Travis Kilbourne, left a note next to the flagpole saying in part that almost everything is offensive to somebody. Kilbourne spoke with KTVU briefly Thursday.

He says he is not a racist, and that he hoisted the confederate flag to make a point.

"People are talking about the first amendment and free speech and what it means and that is exactly what I wanted," said Kilbourne.

"I don't believe there was a positive meaning," answered Cader-Thompson.

The controversy comes as images emerge of Dylann Roof waving a confederate flag. Roof is suspected of shooting to death nine people in a black church in South Carolina, and now that state's governor wants the confederate removed from the state capitol.

"Freedom of speech is an important right. But to do it at that moment when such a tragedy has happened is to exploit the moment and try to get attention," said Kaplan.

Kilbourne says he has no plans to display the confederate flag again.