Veterans in West Texas are upset over a school district’s plans to paint over a flag mural at a new elementary school that is still under construction.
The Canutillo Independent School District Board of Trustees is still looking for some sort of compromise with the school’s developer, Cimarron Hunt Communities, that will also appease the veterans, KAMC News reports.
The controversy over the mural began in January when former U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes visited the construction site for the school, near El Paso, that is to be named in his honor. He noted a concrete wall, etched with the pattern of the U.S. flag, and asked if it could be painted in red, white and blue, according to KDBC News.
The school district agreed to have a mock-up of the color scheme done and painted on a 12-foot section of the wall.
But the developer said the colors weren’t permitted in the covenants signed before construction began.
The agreed-upon colors are a mix of dark oranges and browns meant to make the school blend in with its desert landscape, said Rene Leon, the district’s government relations coordinator.
The community developer asked that the mock-up be painted over and that the school be painted with the original color palette.
But Iraq War veteran, Jarred Taylor, told KDBC that covering the patriotic colors doesn’t seem right and he thinks the flag mural should be red, white and blue.
“We’re not talking about a mural that's bright orange and pink and green with all kinds of weird signs, we're talking about the American flag,” Taylor told KDBC.
Fellow veteran and business partner, Vince Vargas, agreed.
“To me it’s just the beginning,” Vargas said. “You take away a flag from a painting and who's to say the next thing they do is say they don't want an American flag hanging up in front of school as the next step and from there it's like what are we as Americans after that?”
Leon points out the outline of the flag will remain embedded in the concrete.
“This is a small cosmetic issue,” Leon said. “The tribute of the flag is still there in the design of the school. We are not removing that. We are simply going forward with the original design which was to have it painted a dark orange color.”
Cimarron Hunt Communities offered the school $10,000 for a flag pole but that was rejected by the board, according to KAMC.
Shane Griffith, a spokesman for the district, said the trustees are still communicating with the developer.
"We're kind of waiting to see what direction the board wants to take but at the same time we are encouraged that conversations continue so that we can do what's best for veterans, for our students, and for the community at large,” Griffith said.