A Florida homeowner is battling local authorities over the selective targeting of a Wounded Warrior flag he chose to present on his own property. While the Grand Haven community permits residents to fly flags of virtually any other type, he is facing a hefty find and could face a possible lien against his property because of the display.
According to Thomas Bagnoli, the homeowners’ association issued him a $1,000 fine for the apparent violation, though he was shocked to find out he was being targeted.
“I wanted to stand up for something, which I thought was important,” he said in a subsequent interview, “not only to me, but all these kids, men and women fighting over there.”
Reports indicate that, if the fine is not paid within a certain period of time, the HOA can pursue a lien against his home.
“They can do whatever they want,” he asserted. “I’m doing what I want. I feel strongly about this.”
One wonders why flags promoting other issues – including sports teams – are allowed while Bagnoli’s tribute to injured soldiers was not. As of this writing, however, the Western Center for Journalism’s request for comment has not been returned.
Other national outlets began to spotlight this development Wednesday morning, which will undoubtedly bring undesired scrutiny on the HOA and the Grand Haven Master Association. While these administrators could easily relent and come to an agreement with Bagnoli, the homeowner plans to stand firm on his beliefs no matter the outcome.
“They say, ‘Sorry, you have to take it down,’” he said. “I refuse to.”
The flag has been up for more than a year, and he has never received even one complaint. If anything, the display has endeared him to his neighbors. One local volunteered to pay the fine provided he maintains his dedication to flying the flag.
“I get angry,” he explained. “I really do. I don’t understand why.”
In any event, he maintains it will not be Grand Haven’s decision regarding when he takes down the flag, explaining that will not happen at least until U.S. troops return from Afghanistan.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo credit: U.S. Army Europe Images (Creative Commons)