PHILLIPS — A local man is offering a $500 reward for the “capture and conviction” of the person who defaced an American flag he painted on the back of a garage he is renting on High Street.
Benjamin Jacques, 40, said the flag was spray-painted with black paint at 5:39 a.m. June 20.
The painter, Sally Bell, also of Phillips, worked for nearly a month to paint 13 stars and 13 stripes representing the original 13 colonies. Bell also painted the first paragraph of the U.S. Constitution below it. The flag is 30 by 26 feet, Jacques said.
Above the flag is painted a coiled timber rattler. The words “Don't tread on me” are painted below. Underneath that and above the flag is printed “United We Stand.”
“The timber rattlesnake was once a defiant symbol for a young country fighting for its independence. Coupled with the famous warning, 'Don’t tread on me,' it represented America’s anger and resolve to protect our civil liberties,” according to the website http://tnwildside.com/video/timber-rattlesnake-disease/.
During the American Revolution, the snake was a symbol of patriotic unity with the motto: “Don’t Tread on Me,” according to the Library of Congress.
The artwork represents two original flags, Jacques said.
A security video system captured a person wearing a hood walking from one side of the garage to the back. The person looks around the other side of the garage and starts spray-painting across the flag.
The video was given to the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the case.
Bell tried painting over the black paint, but five coats still do not cover the damage.
Jacques' girlfriend, Samantha Bell, also of Phillips, said Jacques was very upset about the vandalism. It is upsetting someone would do this to the American flag, she said.
The flag was painted for everyone, including the veterans and those in active duty, she said.
“This is what it is all about,” Jacques said looking at the flag. “This country is falling down. This is what it is about. It's about family. It's about unity. It's about community. It's about coming together and helping one another. It is a constant reminder of why we are here.”