Remove American Flag Or Else, Homeowners Association Tells Elderly Indiana Vet

An American flag has come under the ire of a homeowners association in Greenfield, Indiana. The Fieldstone Homeowners Association is telling Korean War vet Bob Willits that he cannot fly Old Glory or his POW/MIA flag because of an issue with the flagpole.

However, a local prosecutor believes that the HOA is in the wrong for trying to interpret their rights more broadly than laws allow.

In a report from Fox 59, Bob’s wife Judy Willits said the couple has “absolutely no plans to take it down.”

Her husband, 82, now suffers from Parkinson’s disease and a lung ailment that limits mobility. The couple installed the flagpole last Fourth of July because they wanted to show support for their country.

“He’s paid his price,” Judy said. “He doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. And we never thought this would be a problem.”

But a problem it is, though the HOA board president, Kaye Eckert, said it’s not really about the American flag at all.

“We do not tell anyone they cannot fly a flag,” she said. “What we are having a problem with is the flagpole. Flagpoles are not allowed in this association. It’s never, ever been about the flag, which that’s what seems to come to the foreground all the time.”

Judy doesn’t see it that way.

“They want to penalize us for having the flag,” she said. “They say it’s too hard for landscapers to mow, but it’s not in the way. Our argument is it doesn’t hurt anybody.”

Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Griffin also believes the American flag isn’t hurting anyone — and that the HOA is too broadly interpreting its powers.

“According to the board’s letter dated Oct. 18, the board takes the position that it has authority under the ‘time, place, or manner’ provision of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005… In relying on ‘time, place, or manner,’ the board interprets its authority much too broadly.”

Griffin said the Flag Act that the HOA is using actually prevents it from enforcing “most kinds of regulations regarding display of the American flag unless a ‘substantial interest’ exists,” Fox News adds.

“The association apparently assumes that it has a legally‐sufficient ‘substantial interest,'” Griffin’s letter states, adding that the HOA has cited outdoor maintenance as one reason it has oversight of the pole.

“Every homeowners association has those interests,” Griffin noted. “If those general interests were enough, the law would not require a ‘substantial interest,’ it would simply say that homeowners associations always have the right to regulate ‘time, place, or manner.’ But the law does not say that. The law requires a ‘substantial interest,’ something more than the usual interests of homeowners associations.”

Do you think the HOA should back off its demand for the Willits to remove their American flag?