According to WHNT-TV in Huntsville, the soldier who lives in the condo (it’s apparently owned by a relative) with his wife, found the following message from his friendly neighborhood condo association:
It has come to our attention that you have items in plain sight that are not to be visible from the parking lot by rules and guidelines stated in the home owners association bylaws. Please remove the following listed item(s) as soon as possible to keep the community as tidy as possible:
[The rest is handwritten on the note]
Your flag attached to stairs has to be removed ASAP!”
Not surprisingly, this didn’t go over well with the Staff Sergeant, especially as it would appear that this demand flies in the face of a The Right to Display The American Flag Act of 2005 [PDF], which states:
A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.
After the condo resident posted his story online, it began to draw a lot of attention and some negative feedback to the condo association.
The association’s president defended herself against some of the angry correspondence she’s received.
“I served in Afghanistan, I served in Iraq and I served in Kuwait,” she tells WHNT. “I am not anti-veteran and I am not a communist.”
However, she maintains that the association is correct in not allowing American flags to be displayed.
“Federal law says that anybody can fly an American flag on their personal property and we agree with that,” she explains, maintaining that condominiums are not personal property but are jointly owned by all residents.
However, her interpretation of the law doesn’t seem quite right.
In addition to the above-quoted text from the law, here are the only two limitations given:
Nothing in this Act shall be considered to permit any display or use that is inconsistent with—
(1) any provision of chapter 1 of title 4, United States Code, or any rule or custom pertaining to the proper display or use of the flag of the United States (as established pursuant to such chapter or any otherwise applicable provision of law); or
(2) any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag of the United States necessary to protect a substantial interest of the condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association
Now, the association could try to argue that the flag has a significant, negative impact on home values in the neighborhood, or that the flag is too large and should be replaced with one more fitting of the size of the condo. But a handwritten demand to take the flag down without discussion appears to be a bad move on the association’s part.
Ironically, the association that had no problem leaving an unsigned demand for the resident is none-too-pleased that he then took that demand note and posted it online without first coming to the association to discuss his concerns.
Regardless, it looks like the association president is beginning to come around to the idea of letting flags fly, especially after protestors stood outside the soldier’s home and left behind several flags in the yard.
She tells WHNT that the association is considering “making a waiver to allow a certain amount [of flags] within a certain number of units. We haven’t done that yet — we’re just considering it.”