JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Her name is one letter different than that of the city of Jacksonville code enforcement inspector who became a target for veterans groups and others after the News4Jax story of her warning citation to a Westside business and confrontation with a customer went viral.
Melinda Power is the city employee who was seen on surveillance video pointing her finger in the face of a wounded warrior, who was defending Jaguar Power Sports for flying flags representing the branches of the U.S. military on its roof. She and her supervisor have since be placed on leave.
But some of the outrage from people across the county went to Jacksonville attorney Melinda Powers -- that's Powers with an "s."
Powers called many of the messages she received “vile.”
Here's a sampling of the ones we can show online:
"You are trash."
"You will burn."
“Hope you’re ready for what you have coming.”
That’s just a taste of what she’s been dealing with over the past 24 hours and she says… she just wants it to end.
Powers said the hatred directed her way began about 6 p.m. Monday with a voicemail from an unknown caller accusing her of not supporting the military.
Within hours, there was an onslaught coming from across the country, including Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Tennessee.
"It just started nonstop, nonstop, nonstop. Just calls, messages, bad reviews on my business pages, emails. It just hasn’t stopped," Powers said. "It died down around 2 this morning, and then started right back up around 7.”
The messages ranged from name-calling to threats to her safety. But she wasn't terribly concerned because all the threatening messages came from out of state.
“I really feel for Melinda Power, because I know she’s getting way worse than this," Powers said. "I can’t imagine what people are saying to her and what she’s done. My understanding is that she took her Facebook page down last night."
Powers, who is continuing to work to get out the word that she is being mistaken for another woman, said the experience has given her a renewed perspective on how to treat others.
“Be very careful about what you post, what you say, who you say it to, what groups you are associated with," Powers said. “I think back to the old adage: ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.'"
Powers wants people to remember that the woman at the center of this controversy is still a human being.