Of the nine finalists in Duluth's city flag redesign competition, two are now accused of plagiarism.
Just one day after the city announced its final flag designs - whittled down from 195 public submissions then 41 semifinalists - and opened up final voting to the public, people are starting to recognize similarities with existing flag designs.
One flag finalist mirrors a Minnesota student's redesign of the State of Minnesota flag for a class in 2017 while another looks remarkably similar to a Michigan student's redesign of Detroit's city flag.
City spokesperson Kate Van Daele said the city is now aware of the plagiarism accusations and is reaching out to the people who submitted designs that are similar to others. Names of the designers entering the Duluth competition have not been released during the selection process.
"We will internally continue to reach out to the artists whose work is in question, and we'll do our own research to find out if there is a plagiarism issue. And if there is, then we'll certainly bring that to the flag committee, in addition to the mayor's office, for how they would like to move forward," Van Daele said.
For now, the flag selection timeline will remain the same. Residents can cast their vote at bit.ly/2WTbCXN or in person at Duluth Public Library locations through June 21.
"We're not jumping to any conclusion. And any decision that we will make will be done so with the committee and with the mayor's office," Van Daele said. "Because again, we want to be intentional on being unique, and having a flag and a symbol that is symbolic to our community and that is a community effort."