Local

NC city sues to take down massive US flag — and fines company $50 a day for flying it

Just in time for Memorial Day, one North Carolina city has filed a lawsuit to force an RV store to pull down a 40-foot by 80-foot U.S. flag because it’s too large, reports WBTV and other news outlets.

To put the 3,200-square-foot size in perspective, that’s about 1,000 square feet bigger than the average Starbucks.

Statesville, N.C., officials say the U.S. flag at Gander RV is nearly twice the size of what is specified in city codes for “signs and other outdoor marketing devices,” says WBTV.

Gander RV, an outdoor living equipment dealer, posted news of the lawsuit on its Facebook page May 18, and said the city is “imposing” a $50 per day retroactive fine, dating back to October 15. That’s when the flag went up, the store says.

That adds up to about $11,000 in fines so far, reported Fox 46.

“Many cities like Statesville have requested that Camping World and Gander Outdoors take down their American flags,” said the post, now shared 5,200 times.

“WE WON’T DO IT! Stand with us. This is about more than just the flag. This is about our veterans, military, and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country. They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will NOT take it down!” the post says.

On Wednesday, Statesville officials posted a response to the “social media claims” on Facebook, noting: “The City of Statesville stands by our flag and what it represents.”

“We take our laws and ordinances very seriously. Our doors are open to any business looking to prosper and grow in our community. We only ask that the proper channels are followed. That is the first and necessary step to any potential change in code,” said the post.

Statesville officials say Gander RV was given a permit to fly a 40 by 25-foot flag on its property in 2018.

“But when the flag was raised two months later, it was determined the company was flying a 40 x 80-foot flag, which is prohibited by City ordinance,” said a statement from the town. “After several attempts to have Gander RV replace the flag with the permitted size, the City notified Gander in October, 2018, that the $50-per-day fine would be initiated until the flag was replaced.”

The dispute has inspired a Change.org campaign to “Let Camping World & Gander Outdoors Fly The American Flag!”

As of Wednesday, May 22, more than 190,000 people had signed the petition, which originally had a goal of only 75,000. The goal has since been raised to 200,000 signatures.

Thousands have also commented on Gander RV’s defiant Facebook post, and nearly all appear to be supportive of a keeping the flag up — “the bigger the better.”

“I don’t care if it’s large enough to be seen from space! I question the morals and honor of the folks who run the city if they want to enforce this,” posted Glen Sexton. “Change your own ordinance because it’s ridiculous to start with.”

“Someone needs to file a lawsuit against the city for being Anti American,” posted Steven Schack on the Gander RV Facebook page. “What is this county coming too! My God!”

“Stand tall, proud, and don’t back down to anything or anyone that disapproves of the flying of Old Glory,” wrote Haig Zeytoonian. “She was paid for with the blood of millions. God Bless America.”

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments