"To do so only days before we celebrate our independence and reflect on the freedoms we are lucky enough to enjoy in America is unconscionable," he added. "I extend my apologies to the artists whose mural inspired drivers along 680 for over eight and a half years.”It's certainly not unreasonable for Caltrans to have a no graffiti policy (aside from whether the flag qualifies or not). Surely they don't want people painting Nazi flags on some underpass and claiming equal rights, etc. Graffiti sucks in general.
But this was the flag. Who really believes Caltrans just suddenly realized the flag was on state property? Who really buys that? Sure, bureaucracies are inept and it could have been some ignoramus pencil pusher, but more likely they knew it was illegal when it was drawn but also knew treating it like normal graffiti would cause a firestorm of protests.
So why now? Well, maybe it was this.