A Florida veteran who is facing foreclosure for insisting on displaying a small American flag in a flower pot on his front stoop is telling his homeowner's association to "bring it on."
“The flag is worth fighting for,” 73-year-old Larry Murphree, of Jacksonville, told FoxNews.com Friday. “If they want to foreclose, bring it on. I’m getting calls from all over the county to stand up. That’s what I'm going to do.”
Murphree's homeowners association at Tides Condominium at Sweetwater began hitting him with fines of $100 a day last year for violating his homeowners association’s flag display rules. But instead of paying the fines, Murphree let them pile up - and kept his flag on display. Now he owes more than $8,000, and neither side will budge.
"It’s a small flag but it stands for a big thank you and it shows the love and respect I have for my country.”
- Larry Murphree
“I just kind of dug in my heels," he said. "It’s worth fighting for. It’s a small flag but it stands for a big thank you and it shows the love and respect I have for my country.”
On Wednesday, Murphree told Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends that his fight for the flag is with the board that runs the association.
“I would think if anybody on that board told me they served in the military, I’d have to ask them which side,“ Murphree, who served six years as an Air Force air traffic controller during the Vietnam War, said on theshow.
The fight started in 2011 and landed in court a year later where the two sides reached a settlement in which Murphree agreed to display his flag in compliance with association rules. But two weeks later, the board changed the rules, saying flags could only be displayed on a pole outside the garage and that flower pots were only for flowers.
Murphree ignored the new rules and, in 2013, the fines started. He took the board to court again, this time to federal court where he claimed he had a right to fly his flag under the 2005 Freedom to Display the American Flag Act. But last March a judge dismissed the case on technical grounds. The judge said Murphree could also take his claimsto state court.
Now the board is claiming Murphree owes $8,000 and has attached a foreclosure lien for nonpayment. If the retiree doesn’t pay up the board could start a foreclosure action to take his home.
"I'm not going to back down," Murphree told FoxNews.com.
The board said in a statement Thursday that it “has not prohibited any owner from properly displaying an American flag.”
“The Tides agrees with Mr. Murphree about demonstrating patriotism by flying the American flag,” the statement said. “We have established rules that conform with U.S. code and Florida statutes regarding flag etiquette, and we encourage residents to fly American flags in accordance with the state and national standards.”
Michelle Haines, the board’s attorney, said under Florida law the homeowner's association can fine a condo owner $100 a day, but the maximum amount is $1,000. She said the board is foreclosing on Murphree for being delinquent on his monthly assessment.
Fox News' Karl de Vries contributed to this report