Brad Smith, a sophomore at San Diego State University in California, was forced to remove an American flag from his apartment balcony, Breitbart.com reported Saturday. The reason, according to apartment managers, is the flag could be seen as offensive to foreigners.
“We were then told that it was for political reasons and that the flag could offend foreign people that live here, foreign exchange students,” Smith told a local ABC News affiliate. “I’ve had friends and family fight to defend that flag.”
Smith’s lease with the Boulevard 63 apartment complex says that “no signs or other personal property may be kept outside the premises.” ABC said that management can determine what is “permissible and acceptable.” Attorney Christian Curry told ABC the clause comes close to infringing on residents’ First Amendment rights.
“Clearly, they want to keep it clean and that’s something they want to accomplish,” he said. “It’s a compelling reason, but it’s hardly a reason that’s going to overcome your free speech.”
The move may also violate the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005. That law, signed by President George W. Bush, says a condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association “may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.”