A Nazi flag hung on the porch of an Ashland residence caused an uproar on social media over the weekend. People commenting online initially connected the flag with a “Brotherhood Painting” sign posted in the Park Street front yard, but the Medford-based painting business had nothing to do with the flag display and canceled its contract to paint the house after it was put up.
Business co-owner Clay Bustin said in a Facebook post the flag was put up after they had already pressure-washed the house. He made it clear that in no way did the business support Nazism or have any connection to the flag display.
He even went so far as to offer to pressure wash or paint over any hate speech or vandalism in the area.
“We’re not artists but we’re good at making ugly things disappear,” his social media post read. “This hatred is ugly and we’re happy to paint over it.”
In an interview, Bustin said he would be happy to help get rid of vandalism in the area.
“That’s something really cool we could do for the city,” Bustin said. “There are limits, we can’t paint an entire bridge, but if someone sees a swastika on a wall or something, we’d be happy to go get rid of it for free.”
According to Bustin, he canceled the job as soon as he learned what was going on, which caused him to lose around $1,000 in supplies and labor as the job had already started before the flag was put up. But, he said, it was worth it.
“This kind of hatred must be absolutely starved of as much social and financial support as possible and we are thankful for the opportunity to do this in our business today,” the post read.
Bustin said Brotherhood Painting is a business he started with his brother when he was 23 and had dreams of world peace and brotherhood amongst all peoples.
“It is a name that represented my partnership with my brother and my vision for this planet. And this vision includes the females as well, of course, but Brother/Sisterhood Painting was a little clumsy,” Bustin said. “When I moved here I didn’t want the name of the business to be ‘my name’ and ‘painting,’ I wanted it to have more meaning than that. I started this company with my brother and ‘brotherhood’ encompasses the foundation of our company, our relationship and our inner culture within our company and how we run the company and treat each other.”
He said the family of the resident who lives in the Park Street house owns the house, which is occupied by a family member. According to Bustin’s administrative assistant, Keri Winser, the mother of the occupant called the business to make a payment for the painting service. She asked if they’d spoken with her son as she couldn’t get in contact with him. She had no idea about the flag and was especially shocked because the family is of Jewish descent, she told Winser.
Bustin said the family was apologetic and kind about the situation. She paid the cost of the labor that was lost and even offered for Bustin to keep his deposit. Bustin accepted enough payment to break even on the job. Bustin stressed that the mother was very kind and gracious on the phone.
““I don’t think he’s an evil Nazi,” Bustin said. “He just seems kind of a strange, lost, confused man.”
Bustin said he started the painting business in 2000 and that the company was built on the idea of “people before profit.”
“This is one of those things, where we’re able to live up to one of our core values which is “people before profit” and say I’m willing to put $1,000 aside for the human element of it, the soul of it, which is infinitely more important.”
The flag has since been removed.
For more information about Brotherhood Painting, visit brotherhood-painting.com or contact them at 541-301-5862.