It’s pretty common to see American flags placed in front of people’s homes. Maybe not so much these days, but at least on the 4th of July. It’s also common to see other types of flags propped up, including flags from other countries, sports teams, gay pride, etc. If you live in Florida, however, that may not be the case.
Frances Santiago, a Puerto Rican Florida resident, proudly put up a Puerto Rico flag to celebrate the incredible rising up of Puerto Ricans during their protest of ousted Governor Ricardo Rosselló. It’s not like she needs a reason to explain why she’d put up a Puerto Rico flag other than because she wanted to. But Frances — a 14-year army vet — and her husband, Efrain Santiago, were just so elated to see the beautiful images and headlines that were coming out of Puerto Rico especially after the territory has experienced so much devastation post-Hurricane Maria. That’s why they put up the flag to show their solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico. However, her homeowners’ association told her she had to remove the flag from her own front yard because it violated their rules. Come again?
Apparently, under their rules (and the Florida state law), people are not protected to have any other flag except an American flag, a Florida state flag, or military flags. That means your constitutional rights to free speech is out the window.
“Puerto Rico is part of America. What’s the big issue with us having our flag there?” Efrain said to WFTV. “We have our house, you see, up to standards. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not doing anything to our neighbors by flying our flag.”
This mind-boggling protection under Florida Law says residents can only display flags they see fit, so that leaves the Santiagos no choice but to hire a lawyer because they will not have their freedoms taken away. So, as of now, their Puerto Rico flag remains up!
According to WFTV, the president of the homeowners’ association said: “We treat all owners the same. If you travel through our community, you will see the only flags are those regulated by the state.” In other words, we treat all minorities the same and apply the same discrimination to them. You would think the homeowners’ association would have some more respect for an army vet that served two tours in Iraq.
“I fought for this, to be able to do this,” Frances said. “So, I don’t see a problem with flying my flag here.”