Hartland trustee issues public apology after putting offensive flag on his lawn

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HARTLAND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Hartland trustee is issuing a public apology after being slammed for posting a flag on his lawn with an insult aimed at Vice President Kamala Harris.

The flag-flying incident has divided the community, something trustee Tom Truttschel says he's sorry for.

Hartland trustee Tom Truttschel told the village board meeting on July 11, "Recently at the hometown parade, I had used some poor judgment in hanging a flag that people took offense to and rightfully so based on their feelings."

A parade-goer snapped this photo of the flag the day of the parade. It's the same disrespectful slogan being sold by numerous online vendors.

"Any kid could read that. We're against bullying in all of our schools. Like these are not okay words to be using to, to any woman and he has a wife, he has three daughters," said Courtney Marschalek, Hartland resident.

Parade-goers took their complaints to village hall last month.

A Pewaukee resident said, "I believe in freedom of speech. You can put up any sign in your yard that you want, but the question is should you?"

A Hartland resident said, "Having a sign in your yard that says, "Joe and the h@% have got to go" makes Hartland look bad."

Trustee Truttschel took the flag down after the parade.

"The last thing I wanted to do was have that negatively affect the people of this village and the board," said trustee Truttschel.

"I think it's important that it happened in that way because it makes that person stand alone and give that apology, not with any protection of being part of a board," said Hartland village board President Jeffrey Phannerstill.

Moving forward, an ethics training session planned for the board next month will include the topic of impact versus intent.

"You may not have the intent of harming someone else, but you have to be very cognizant that it can impact in a harmful way other people. "My focus right now is trying to get this community back together again. We don't need two sides always fighting. We're all the same village. We're all the same community," said Phannerstill.

The village board has no plans for discipline against the trustee. We should note, we also met neighbors who tell us freedom of speech should mean exactly that - even if it's upsetting to others.

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