An Oregon apartment complex reversed its ban prohibiting residents from flying American flags from dwellings and parked vehicles after the property manager decided she didn't have the legal standing to do so, KATU in Portland reported Wednesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union said that Barb Holcomb's ban at Oaks Apartments did not violate any laws, but Holcomb said her legal cousel led her to believe otherwise so she reversed the decision.
"If people want to fly any flag of any nationality, it's their right," she told KATU. "When a tenant rents the unit, the inside of the unit belongs to the tenant. All automobiles and things attached to the automobiles are the personal property of the tenant."
Holcomb told KATU that the flag flap was caused by how two sections of the rental agreement that all tenants sign were interpreted.
Residents' outrage started when Jim Clausen, whose son is in the military and on his way back to Iraq, was told he couldn't fly an American flag from the back of his motorcycle.
If he didn't take the flag down, he was told he'd face eviction, the station reported on Monday.
"It floored me," Clausen told the station. "I can't believe she was saying what she was saying. It [the flag] stands for the people that can no longer stand — who died in wars. That's why I fly the flag."
Holcomb admitted she was wrong to ban the flags after the public outcry received national media attention.
"What we were trying to do was to keep the peace," she told the station, declining to say if a particular incident sparked the ban. "Obviously, we were wrong. If the peace needs to be kept, it belongs to the police department."
Holcomb received numerous calls from the media focusing on the American flag ban, although the policy itself did not specifically single out the U.S. flag and allow the flags of other nations.
"I made a policy. I was wrong," she said.
Sharron White, a long-time resident, was originally told by management to take down the flag she'd flown on her car for eight years because "someone might get offended."
"I just said to her, 'They'll just have to get over it,'" White said before the ban was lifted.
The ban had also applied to flag stickers on cars, as well as sports flags.