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Veteran fights to keep American flag in front yard: 73 y/o hit with $8,000 fine

A veteran fights to keep the American flag in his front yard after the local homeowners association has requested the 73-year-old man take it down. Larry Murphree of Florida has stated this week that the HOA recently hit him with an $8,000 fine for trying to showcase the US flag in an easily noticeable flower pot. United Press International News reports this Tuesday, June 24, that the longtime veteran feels it is his hard-earned “right” to display the American flag on his own property.

Veteran is fighting to keep an American flag in his front yard
Veteran is fighting to keep an American flag in his front yard
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Although U.S. citizens today live in a nation that only remains free and safe due to the bravery and sacrifices of our military men and women, one Jacksonville resident believes that he is not getting the respect — nor the civil liberties — he is due. Larry Murphree of Jacksonville, FL, a service veteran, is currently in a struggle with his community’s homeowners association. They want him to remove the American flag in his front yard, but the 73-year-old man is adamant in making sure it stays in his flower pot in clear view.

The determined man is claiming that his local HOA is fining him a grand total of $8,000 for that very reason, in addition to setting a lien on his own home. Murphree says that he has been in contention with officials from Tides Condominiums at Sweetwater Association for over 24 months, and the ongoing issue shows no immediate signs of resolution.

"I have a right to have it there," Murphree told First Coast News, regarding the displayed American flag. "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."

According to WOKV News, Murphree was even taken to court over the proceedings. Now, he is not just fighting to maintain the flag; he is fighting to keep his home from being foreclosed. An out-of-court settlement was apparently made with the HOA back in 2013, yet the community officials tackled the issue once again after local rules were redrafted. The 73-year-old war veteran shares that he feels discouraged and that the atmosphere of the neighborhood has changed vastly since his initial move there.

"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 told Action News. "I want it to go away. It's such a minor little thing that they just keep coming after me."

A legal analyst from WOKV, Mark Rubin, is examining Murphree’s counter lawsuit, in which he refers to the Flag Act, passed by Congress back in 2005. Rubin is saying that the law essentially gives US citizens the right to fly the nation’s flag on their personal property. For motives undetermined, the homeowner’s association is against Larry performing this patriotic act.

"The property owner's association is for some reason intent on restricting the property owner."

It is now believed that the case over a veteran getting fined $8,000 for having an American flag in his front yard will take place in a Florida state court. The main point of contention is whether the homeowner or the association has the rights to permit or restrict such patriotic activities. He did note that the case was unusual and seemingly targeted, however.

"To restrict someone that's flying a flag in his front yard, seems to be picking on somebody," Rubin concluded. "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."