What freedom of speech? Mayor threatens ‘vulgarity code enforcement’ over ‘F- Biden’ flag.

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HAMMOND, IN – The mayor of the city of Hammond had threatened to utilize vulgarity codes related to city ordinance against a local resident who was flying on his property a flag that read “Fuck Biden and fuck you for voting for him.”

Reportedly the local took the flag down, but only after the mayor had stepped up and apologized for threatening to utilize city ordinance against the individual.

Roy Steffan is the owner of the flag that garnered local attention, having lived on the corner of Old Columbia Avenue and River Drive for roughly 50 years and flying all sorts of different flags while having lived there.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, who is a self-admitted President Biden supporter, alleged that he’d began to accrue complaints regarding the anti-Biden flag being visible from a nearby children’s park.

Tracy Gerig, a local who’s seen the flag visible from Riverside Park during children’s baseball tournaments, stated the following about it:

“I think the flag is disgusting, and I’ve only seen him fly it during games. It’s embarrassing for our city. I’m all about free speech, but not that in the presence of children.”

Much of the controversy around this flag really picked up steam after Mayor Thomas McDermott tweeted the following on April 26th:

“This is how a [Trump supporter] in [the city of Hammond] shows his support of the former President – flying supportive flags with vulgar & threatening language to President [Biden] & his supporters. This house across the street from a city park where dozens of kids gather & play.”

While the flag itself may be vulgar, there isn’t any “threatening” language associated with the flag showing general anti-Biden sentiments.

When initially addressing the matter, Mayor McDermott stated that he would attempt to utilize city code to compel Steffan to remove the flag from his yard:

“This is complaint-driven. The neighbors and the parents across the street complained to us and we have a job to do. It’s very clear that you can’t have vulgar messages on flags or signs, and this is clearly a violation of city ordinance.”

Mayor McDermott proclaims that he’d treat someone flying an anti-Trump flag the same if it hosted similar language and was publicly presented as Steffan’s flag:

“It has nothing to do with the message, it has to do with the location and the vulgarity.”

When first approached with this, Steffan proclaimed that he was going to push back against the requests and see what the courts would have to say on the matter:

“If they want to take me to court, and waste the taxpayers’ time and money, well be my guest because they’re the one that’s going to pay for it, not I. I’ll go with the Constitution, and the Constitution says I have the right to do what I’m doing.”

However, the matter never wound up having the courts or city ordinances formally injected into the equation.

Following the local media attraction regarding the incident, Mayor McDermott opted to go to Steffan’s home personally to discuss the matter to seek a resolution.

The city mayor had admitted that it was “dumb” for him to have initially addressed the issue by threatening the use of city code against Steffan.

Steffan had reportedly removed the flag from his front yard, which Mayor McDermott still proclaims his only issue with the particular flag was due to the vulgarities emblazoned on the flag:

“He flies nine flags — one has vulgarity on it, and he’s flying it in front of a park where kids play. I don’t have a problem with the other flags. And he took it down, so as long as it’s not visible, he can fly it in his basement.”

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In other reports related to flag controversies, we at Law Enforcement Today reported back in March about a man who was threatened by his condo association for flying an American flag outside of his home. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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FARGO, ND – A condo association within Fargo has threatened one of their residents with fines due to an American flag hung outside his condo that has been deemed as “noisy” due to its periodic flapping in the wind.

Anyone who has ever lived in a neighborhood or community with an HOA, or the equivalent of for condos, is well aware that while they can be beneficial, said entities can also be annoyingly petty at times.

Such is the case with Andrew Almer, who has been receiving threats of fines over his American flag hung on his back balcony.

The condominium owner recently spoke out about the matter, noting that flying the American flag outside of his home was something he’s always wanted to do before he attained his property:

“It’s something I’ve always wanted when I owned a home. Having an American flag in the yard is just an American thing – that pride to have.”

Of all the things one could anticipate getting a “warning” for when residing in communities with HOAs, chances are that flying American flags on their balcony wasn’t one of them. But, in Almer’s case, that’s exactly what happened.

Having lived in the condo for roughly five years, Almer decided to stop renting the unit and outright purchased it about two years ago. After having purchased the unit, he decided to hang up his American flag:

“I don’t really take it down. It’s been lit up every night and it’s an all-weather flag, so you follow the guidelines and it’s been up for two years straight, almost.”

Yet, after having flown the flag seemingly without issue for nearly two years, Almer received a warning letter from the condo association in January alleging that someone was complaining that the flag flapping in the wind is causing a noise issue:

“The first letter I got, I laughed, because I just thought, ‘This is ridiculous.’ You cannot tell me somebody is complaining about a flapping flag in the wind.”

Almer has suspicions that the origin of the complaint came from the resident above his unit – which happens to be the condo association president.

While not having disclosed details on the rift between the two, Almer simply noted that the condo association president has a “vendetta” against him.

After having laughed off the first notice he received, a second warning came in roughly one month after the first:

“When I got this second letter I thought, ‘Oh my God, she’s serious.’”

Almer is reportedly getting threats of fines for $200 a day for every day he continues to fly the flag. However, Almer has zero intentions of taking the flag on his balcony down:

“It’s going to stay up. And if I need to, we’ll take it to court, but hopefully it doesn’t have to get that far and there can be some resolution that’s peaceful.”

If the issue ever did wind up in court, it would likely be a rather easy win for Almer since the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 explicitly prohibits condo associations from trying to enforce restrictions of displaying the U.S. flag on someone’s residential property.

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