Game on: National Police Association files federal lawsuit against HOA for banning the Thin Blue Line flag

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NEW ALBANY, OH – Like patriotic and police-supporting homeowners all across the country, Joseph J. Swantack, Jr., and Christine M. Swantack flew an American flag and a Thin Blue Line flag over the front porch of their condominium in New Albany, OH.

Unfortunately, their Homeowner’s Association took exception to their expression of support for law enforcement.

The HOA assessed fines against the couple and threatened legal action if the pair refused to remove their Thin Blue Line flag.

That’s when the National Police Association (NPA) took action.

The NPA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit association that advocates for law enforcement and was “founded to educate supporters of law enforcement in how to help police departments accomplish their goals.”

The NPA has previously successfully assisted a Colorado homeowner in a battle with an HOA over the homeowner’s flying of the Thin Blue Line flag.

Initially, according to the PR NewsWire, “[c]ontacts with the HOA seeking a mutually agreeable voluntary outcome were in this case unsuccessful.”

Now, the NPA has filed a lawsuit along with the Swantacks against the New Albany Park Condominium Association Board of Directors; and Lifestyle Communities, Ltd..

The lawsuit explains:

“The Swantacks chose to fly the “Thin Blue Line” flag outside of their private residence as an expression of their patriotism and their gratitude toward and honor for law enforcement.”

The suit further notes:

“Because the Swantacks were effectively prevented from flying the Flag, owned by NPA, in accordance with their right to freedom of speech through Defendants’ action by shifting legal fees under Ohio Rev. Code ‘ 5311.19(A) and threatening judicial enforcement, Defendants’ action effectively chilled NPA and the Swantacks’ right to freedom of speech.”

It continues:

“29. NPA and the Swantacks wish for the Swantacks to fly the Flag owned by NPA outside of their private residence in accordance with both NPA and the Swantacks’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression. 

“30. NPA and the Swantacks are suffering irreparable harm in not being permitted to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression as described herein.”

The NPA and the Swantacks have asked in the suit that the section of New Albany Park Community Guidelines Handbook that prevents the Swantacks from flying their Thin Blue Line flag be declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

In addition, the plaintiffs are requesting that no further action, enforcement, or retaliation be taken.

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James Bopp, Jr., counsel for the plaintiffs, stated:

“HOA covenants that prohibit the display of the Thin Blue Line flag are in violation of the First Amendment and the threats by the HOA to enforce their prohibition in court are without merit.”

Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith (Ret), the spokesperson for the National Police Association, added: 

“Although this matter is purely a question of law, more broadly the Thin Blue Line in all its forms has come under attack from anti-police activists who seek to eliminate any symbol of support for law enforcement. 

“You’ll note when parties have been able to ban the Thin Blue Line as a symbol of support for law enforcement they rarely provide an alternative symbol of support they will permit.

“That’s because there aren’t any.”

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National Police Association files FOIA records request to vindicate Border Patrol agents falsely accused of ‘whipping’ migrants

Originally published February 28, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thanks to the efforts of the National Police Association, which has filed a Freedom of Information Act records request, the results of an investigation into the actions of Border Patrol agents who were inappropriately accused of “whipping” Haitian migrants may soon come to light.

In September of 2021, as we previously reported, photographs were published of Border Patrol agents on horseback working to stem the flow of Haitian migrants attempting to cross illegally into the United States.

Left-wing pundits and politicians alike claimed with no foundation that the Border Patrol was using whips on the migrants, and they were quick to condemn the agents.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said:

“I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate.”

Vice President Kamala Harris announced to reporters that she was “deeply troubled,” saying:

“What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible. And I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into exactly what is going on there.

“But human beings should never be treated that way. And I’m deeply troubled about it. And I’ll also be talking to Secretary (Alejandro) Mayorkas about it today.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added her condemnation to the mix, declaring:

“Reports of the mistreatment of Haitian migrants fleeing violence and devastation from natural disasters are deeply troubling, including the inappropriate use of what appear to be whips by Border Patrol officers on horseback to intimidate migrants.”

Of course, President Joe Biden added his two cents, declaring that he would make the Border Patrol “pay” for their actions:

“To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped—it’s outrageous,” Biden said as he make a whipping motion with his hand. “I promise you; those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”

People who knew how to manage horses appropriately pushed back against the false narrative of the Border Patrol “whipping” migrants and sought to educate the accusers.

For example, the National Fraternal Order of Police tweeted:

“For all you Social Media Warriors out there: these are NOT whips. And no, Border Patrol agents are NOT ‘whipping’ people.

“They are REINS… Stay with us here, like a steering wheel is used to drive a car, the reins are used to ‘drive’ the horse.

“Thanks for coming to our TED talk.”

The photographer himself, Paul Ratje, verified that he saw no whipping.

Despite the fact that the Border Patrol was simply doing their job, riding appropriately, and policing the border, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called for an investigation, saying:

“The footage is extremely troubling, and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken…

“But we are going to investigate the facts to ensure that the situation is as we understand it to be, and if it’s anything different we will respond accordingly.”

Later in September 2021, on Joy Reid’s MSNBC program, Mayorkas again indicated that the situation would be investigated with haste.  He said:

“We need this resolved swiftly. I anticipate that the results of the investigation will be available by the end of next week and I’ve committed to making the results public.”

‘Swiftness’ never happened, despite Mayorkas’ declarations to that effect.

As we previously reported, by November 2, 2021, several weeks after the incident, there were no reports whatsoever on any investigation.

What followed last November was a rather confusing turn of events as to who was in charge of the investigation.

According to CNN, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had originally referred the Border Patrol incident to Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.

However, the DHS Inspector General encountered “internal resistance” and announced on November 16, 2021, that it would not be investigating.

Instead, CNN reports, the US Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility was placed in charge of the investigation.

The DHS stated in an update on November 16:

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initially referred the investigation to DHS’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG declined to investigate and referred the matter back to CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

“OPR then immediately commenced investigative work, including its review of videos and photographs and the interview of witnesses, employees, and CBP leadership. OPR has followed customary process in its investigation of this matter.”

Despite the changing of the guard three months ago, no official results of the investigation have ever come to light.

In fact, the Washington Examiner reports that DHS officials have told the publication that “a report may never be released.”

The Examiner adds:

“The administration promised a quick review of the incident, but the lack of a conclusion vindicating or convicting mounted Border Patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas, for their behavior in preventing Haitian migrants from illegally crossing into the United States in September has prompted suspicion among DHS officials, who said the report should have been concluded by now regardless of the outcome.”

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An unidentified “DHS official” told the Examiner:

“I doubt that the current administration will release this report on the horse patrol incident because it makes the administration look terrible.”

The source continued:

“They essentially convicted the mounted agents based upon a lie, which the investigation after 120 days would surely have revealed.

“My experience would be that this would have been done within a period of weeks.”

The Examiner adds:

“A representative for the Border Patrol union, the National Border Patrol Council, told the Washington Examiner that there have been ‘no new developments whatsoever.’”

Fortunately for those Border Patrol agents still waiting to be officially vindicated, the nonprofit National Police Association (NPA) has taken steps to obtain information on the investigation into the incident of alleged “whipping.”

On February 22, 2022, the NPA filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for records on all the “investigative work” performed by the CBP’s Office of Personal Responsibility regarding:

“Allegations made against or about United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents ‘whipping’ or otherwise engaging migrants attempting to cross into the United States in or near the Rio Grande River near Del Rio, Texas during the migrants’ encounter with CBP agents on September 19, 2021.”

In addition, the FOIA request asks for all communications (emails, texts or other forms of communication) regarding the incident, between:

– “the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the White House”

– “the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the media”

– “the White House staff to the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas or his staff”

– “the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas or his staff to the White House”

– “the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas or his staff to the Office of the Inspector General.”

There was no specified date for requested completion, but the filing asked for a receipt, as well as an estimated date of completion of records transfer.

NPA spokesperson and Law Enforcement Today Board of Advisors member Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith (Ret.) said in a statement:

“It is past time for the Biden administration to release the findings clearing these falsely accused law enforcement officers.

“The results of the investigation are no doubt being withheld to keep from embarrassing the people who defamed the agents.

“Apologies need to begin immediately.”

Please continue to follow Law Enforcement Today for updates on this developing story.

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