Homeowner has right to fly historic military flag, ACLU of Arizona says

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
August 30, 2010 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

HOA ordered resident to remove it

CONTACT: media@aclu.org

PHOENIX – The ACLU of Arizona today sent a letter to a homeowner’s association, defending the right of resident Andy McDonel to fly the Gadsden flag outside his home.

The letter calls on the Avalon Village Community Association to drop its threat of fines against Mr. McDonel unless he removes the flag, which the association referred to as “debris.”

“The HOA’s demand violates Arizona law and the basic rights of Mr. McDonel,” said Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona.

McDonel got the ultimatum from the HOA in early August, ordering him to remove the flag, which had been flying outside his home for months.

But the Arizona statute says HOAs cannot prohibit displays of any military flags.

The Gadsden flag (which features a coiled rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread On Me”) has been used by the US Marine Corps since 1775, and has long symbolized the spirit of the American Revolution. Its use by the marines continues to this day and it is officially displayed at military bases, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Many people in this state live under the rule of homeowners’ associations. But HOAs don’t have the power to hijack Arizonans’ free speech rights,” said ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler Meetze. “The Arizona Legislature recognized the importance of protecting the right to free expression, which is why they passed the law allowing individuals to fly American flags and those of the armed forces. We believe Mr. McDonel should be allowed to display the Gadsden flag as a show of his patriotism.”

The ACLU of Arizona is asking the Avalon Village association to resolve the matter before it ends up in court or requires legislative action that further limits HOA decisions. Legal Director Pochoda is offering to meet with association officials to work out a reasonable solution to this issue.

In the meantime, Mr. McDonel will continue to proudly display his Gadsden flag.

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Free Speech

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Free Speech

Free Speech issue image

Protecting free speech means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has worked since 1920 to ensure that freedom of speech is protected for everyone.