Kirsters Baish| You know there’s a problem in our country when a United States veteran is forced to sell his home for displaying (of all things) an American flag. Apparently the HOA members at the Tides Condominium Association in Sweetwater, Florida were so offended by former Air Force air traffic controller Larry Murphree’s American flag, that they fined him for it.
He claims that he was then forced to sell his home.
Murphree had lived in the 55 and older community since it opened, as reported by the Washington Times on Monday. Then, the veteran opened up a letter from the HOA, telling him that he must remove his American flag that was sitting in a flower pot on his front porch.
— First Coast News (@FCN2go) July 4, 2018
Murphree spoke with First Coast News, and he explained, “I got a violation letter that stated the American flag was an unauthorized object and for me to take it down.”
Murphree explained that he would not give in to the request. He did not remove the flag from the flower pot on his porch, even after being fined $100 for every single day that it remained.
“They started fining me up to $1,000 because I wouldn’t take the flag down,” Murphree stated.
He explained that the $1,000 came from the $100 he was fined for every day that the flag remained in the flower pot.
“We believe we have the right to display the American flag. We filed suit in federal court,” Murphee’s lawer, Gust Sarris, explained to First Coast News.
Fox News reports:
Murphree thought he won after the HOA agreed in 2012 he could keep his flag in the flower pot, but he said the organization changed the “flag ordinance to a flower pot ordinance.”
“Somehow they re-categorized it and started doing the same thing again which was the same flag, the same flower pot, the same dirt and the same plant,” Sarris said.
Murphree was once again charged $100 a day for the flag and the HOA took the money he was fined out of his HOA fee pay, which he was not aware of.
Murphree’s lawyer stated, “So, the monthly homeowner’s fees weren’t being paid. That’s how they were able to get a lien on the property.”
Murphree explained that after more than seven years had gone by, the legal war was still taking place. He explained that the HOA began to “nitpick.” They slapped him with violation after violation. They even cited him for things like Christmas lights. He ended up having to sell the condo a few years ago after racking up fees and having a lien placed on the condo by the condominium association. He sued for $1 million.
Sarris asserted, “Should any man who served in the military lose his home, a retirement home, because they want to be patriotic? Anybody can see that the HOA has gone overboard.”
Murphree said that he now lives in St. Augustine, Florida. He has eight flags proudly flying on his property. He even has one in a flower pot.