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A Florida veteran is facing eviction for flying the American flag.
Larry Murphree risked his life for his country but may now lose his home because he placed a small flag inside a flower pot. The Sweetwater, Florida, man has lived at his current location for many years and has been embroiled in a fight with the homeowner’s association for at least the last two over the flag issue.
“They [the homeowner’s association] just sent me a letter that says I owe them around $8,000 and they put a foreclosure lien on my house. I want it to go away. It’s such a minor little thing and they keep coming after me,” Murphree told WAWS.
A Florida law states that residents have the right to display an American flag, but that has not deterred the Sweetwater HOA from attempting to evict the proud veteran. Federal law dating back to 2005 affirms the state law – yet still the lien remains attached to Murphree’s property, WAWS reported.
Of course, it is startling to many patriots that either a state or a federal law is required to assure the right to fly your country’s flag.
Homeowner’s association attorney Michelle Haines reportedly said that if the property violation fine is not paid within 30 days, her office can move forward with foreclosure proceedings on Murphree’s home.
When I first moved here, I loved it. It was wonderful. But it got where I’m being nitpicked more and more. I’ve lost a lot of friends and neighbors moving out. I don’t want to move.
Murphree, 73, is not willing to tuck away his American flag despite what the Tides Condominium HOA says.
“I have a right to have it there. They’ve got a foreclosure on my house, that’s why the flag is upside down. I am hurt, disappointed, that they just keep going after the American flag and after me,” the veteran said.
In 2013 Murphree reached an out-of-court settlement with the Tides Condominium after a lawsuit filed on a similar matter was settled. Since that settlement, the HOA has rewritten its rules. Murphree, like those who vocally support him and others who have faced similar fights with homeowner associations and apartment management, feels that he has earned the right to place a flag in his flower pot. Current homeowner association rules reportedly state that only flowers and foliage are allowed to be placed in flower pots.
Legal analyst Mark Rubin told WOKV:
The property owner’s association is for some reason intent on restricting the property owner. To restrict someone that’s flying a flag in his front yard, seems to be picking on somebody. We’re talking about somebody that is trying to make a patriotic statement, of course, that’s protected speech under the Constitution. When you have a homeowner’s association think they can develop rules that can restrict that, then you have a classic confrontation.
The 2005 federal Flag Act states that American citizens have the right to fly the flag on their personal property.
Do you believe the veteran has a right to fly the flag, despite what the HOA says? Tell us in the comments section below.