Florida Democratic Club Flying Obama American Flag Receives Death Threats

Veterans protested the flag featuring Obama's face outside a Deomcratic club.

ByABC News
March 16, 2012, 11:59 AM

March 16, 2012— -- It's been a difficult week for members of the Lake County Democratic Club in Florida after they received thousands of angry emails, phone calls, and even death threats for displaying an American Flag with President Obama's face on it.

The image of the president takes the place of the 50 stars on the flag and had been flying at the headquarters for the past two months. But, that all changed on Tuesday when a group of about 20 veterans gathered outside the headquarters and demanded the flag be taken down.

"It was extremely disturbing," says Korean War Veteran Don Van Beck. "You have to be a veteran to understand how we feel about the flag. You go to war defending that flag and now they're defacing it."

The veterans say that altering the flag is in violation of the Federal Flag Code, which states "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure design, picture, or drawing of any nature."

Democratic Club Chair Nancy Hurlbert answered the door at Democratic Headquarters and told the veterans they could not take the flag down because this was private property. After a heated discussion, Hurlbert agreed to research the flag code, insisting the club had no intention of offending anyone and that the flag was a gift from one of its members. Hurlbert came back outside 10 minutes later and removed the flag from the pole, leaving an American Flag with the 50 stars which had already been on the pole. Club Secretary Janet Manchon says the anger didn't end there.

"It was just vitriol. I've been called every name in the book," says Manchon. "The flag means a lot to us. My father was a veteran. My husband's a veteran. We feel badly because we support our veterans."

Manchon says her phone's been ringing off the hook and her e-mail inbox has been full since Tuesday. But, that's nothing compared to what Hurlbert has endured, instructed not to speak about the incident by the Florida Democratic Party. Manchon says that Hurlbert has received two death threats.

"She's scared. She's had to turn her phone off," says Manchon. "I just don't understand why the veterans couldn't have just called headquarters. They bombarded our chairperson with cameras and local press, catching her off guard."

Van Beck says he doesn't hold any animosity towards the Democratic Club and is sorry that Hurlbert has received the death threats. But, he insists they called headquarters multiple times on Monday and Tuesday. Since nobody answered the phone, the veterans drove to Tavares, Fla., and Hurlbert answered the door. Democratic Club members like Janet Manchon believe this incident isn't about the flag, but rather a way to be critical of President Obama. Van Beck says that's just not true.

"I would have acted the same at another location," said the Veteran. "This is not a political thing. This is about the flag. If we saw Mitt Romney on a flag at the Republican Headquarters, we would have done the same thing."

You can currently buy the flag online including EBay, where it sold for $128.50 Thursday evening. The veterans say they're sending letters to all the VFW Posts in the U.S., alerting them of the flag. Van Beck says the flag is manufactured in China.

The Florida Democratic Party tells ABC News that they don't condone the actions of the Lake County Club and are in agreement that they flag should have been taken down. The state party did, however, send an e-mail to Hurlbert, which she read at the club's meeting Wednesday night.

The letter encouraged members to not let this incident "distract us from our work." Manchon says they plan to do just that, adding the phone calls and emails have slowed down as the tense week comes to an end.

"We want to try and put this whole thing aside so we can get on with what do -- helping re-elect U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and President Barack Obama."