Driver says he was attacked on I-4 over Confederate flag dispute

2 men yelled profanities, punched driver, man says


A driver claims he was attacked by two men who didn't like what he had to say about the Confederate flag they were flying behind their pickup truck.

Phillip Arroyo said the incident happened as he was driving to meet his girlfriend for dinner on Monday evening.

He said he was at the intersection of Hughey Avenue and Washington Street in downtown Orlando when he noticed the white pickup truck beside him holding a large Confederate flag.

He said the driver noticed him looking.

"One of the gentleman on the passenger side looks at me and tells me to roll down my window. So I do," he said. "When I rolled down my window, he says, 'what the (expletive) are you looking at?'"

Arroyo said he could have said nothing, but he said he decided to tell them the truth.

"I told him, 'I don't appreciate your language, and now that you mention it, I don't appreciate your flag either. Personally I think it stands for racism.'"

He said the driver and passenger began yelling profanities at him as he drove away and merged onto Interstate 4 heading west.

Arroyo said he had almost forgotten about it until he saw the truck speed by him on the freeway, change lanes and skid to a complete stop.

"Both of the gentlemen got out of their vehicle," he said. "The gentleman who was driving actually punched me through the open window, and I was able to swerve to the right and he hit me on the left shoulder."

He said he rolled up the window, and the man kept punching it.

Florida Highway Patrol arrived until Orlando police officers responded.

None of the officers said they saw what happened, and investigators with the Orlando Police Department say they haven't had any witnesses come forward.

Because of that, they have not arrested either man in the case. Instead, investigators are sending the case to the Florida State Attorney's Office for its team to determine if charges should be filed.

Arroyo's attorney, James Smith, says he has concerns about how police are handling the case.

"Perhaps the police department is so concerned about political sensitivities they're taking somewhat of a minimalist approach to this," he said. "I think they need to treat this offense just like they would treat any other offense."

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