JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) – A condo owner claims his homeowners association “repeatedly harassed, fined, and … tormented” him for putting two little American flags in flower pots outside his door.
Larry Murphree sued The Tides Condominium At Sweetwater by Del Webb Master Homeowners’ Association, in Federal Court.
Murphree claims the HOA violated the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act, 120 Stat. § 572, which President George W. Bush signed on July 24, 2006.
“Plaintiff began displaying a small United States flag in the garden pots outside the door to his condominium unit on or about July, 2011,” the complaint states.
“Defendant has repeatedly harassed, fined, and otherwise tormented plaintiff regarding said display of the United States flag outside of Plaintiff’s condominium unit. …
“After many months of discussions, defendant has levied fines and other encumbrances upon plaintiff’s property, which fines arise from plaintiff’s display of the United States flag outside of his condominium unit.
“Defendant has maintained throughout the course of events which give rise to this conflict that plaintiff’s display of the United States flag is a violation of the various covenants and restrictions that apply to the condominium that is the subject of this litigation.”
Murphree says he has attended “several administrative and informal hearings before the Board of Directors of the condominium, but no resolution to the issue between plaintiff and defendant regarding the display of the American flag outside his condominium unit” has been reached.
A photo of the little flags is attached as an exhibit to the complaint.
Murphree claims the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act “makes it illegal for condominium associations such as the defendant to curtail or limit the speech of persons wishing to display the United States flag outside of their condominium units, even if such display of the United States flag arguably violates one or more of the covenants and restrictions of the declaration of condominium.
“The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act expressly states that: ‘A condominium 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,'” according to the complaint.
Murphree seek declaratory judgment, damages for constitutional violations, court costs and attorney’s fees.
He is represented by Gust Sarris.
Jacksonville WTEV-TV Channel 47 reported that the HOA threatened to fine Murphree $100 a day for displaying the little flags. In December, Murphree and his neighbors tangled with the HOA when they put up Christmas lights, WTEV reported.