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Pushback: HOA demands flag be removed; Neighbors rally and raise their own flags

Banned by Cumberland Crossing HOA
Free speech banned by Cumberland Crossing HOA.

Bring a gun to a knife fight: When the Cumberland Crossing HOA in Ohio demanded that resident Thomas DiSario take down the thin blue line flag he had been flying for five years to honor his son — who had been a policeman killed in the line of duty — he not only refused, all his neighbors rallied in support by raising their own flags throughout the neighborhood.

Some neighbors in a subdivision near Etna are making a statement after a resident was told to take down his “thin blue line flag” by the Homeowner’s Association. The HOA told him to remove it, calling it a political statement.

“I applaud them for it and it’s growing. You see more flags out every few days, you see a few more flags and blue light bulbs,” said Kathy Riddle, neighbor.

More and more neighbors in Cumberland Crossing are mounting thin blue line flags outside their homes. “We wanted to show respect for our neighbor. And we appreciate the service that his family member gave,” said Riddle.

It appears that the HOA demanded the flag’s removal after one complaint, and claimed the reason for doing so was simply because “It is a political statement.” The image below shows the text from the HOA letter, clearly indicating that its reasons for demanding the flag’s removal was an attempt by the HOA to ban political speech.

Cumberland Crossing HOA's attempt to ban speech
Click for full letter.

The flag itself had been a gift from the police at the funeral for DiSaro’s son.

The letter arrived in conjunction with an ugly incident at DiSario’s home, where an unidentified man trespassed and attempted to remove the flag.

On Saturday [May 14th], Thomas DiSario, a disabled veteran who needs oxygen after being exposed to sarin gas during Operation Desert Storm, found a person on his property taking down the Thin Blue Line flag and the American flag that flies above it.

“I had a gentleman come in my yard, lower the flags, and [he] wiped his face on them,” DiSario said. “I, in turn, asked him to leave. He would not, and I put him out of my yard. He came back … sat on my rock, then he proceeded to get up and take the flags down again, and I stopped him and put him out of my yard.”

DiSario eventually called the Licking County Sheriff’s Office. The deputy who responded said neighbors also saw the man and helped to describe him, but the deputy was unable to locate him. [emphasis mine]

Two days later, DiSario received the HOA’s letter. Though the HOA said it was not connected with the man who attempted to remove the flag, its letter was dated May 13, 2022, the day before that incident happened. Apparently, that man knew the letter had been written, and decided to take action on his own, and while doing so also express his contempt not only for DiSario’s dead son but for the American flag itself.

The HOA meanwhile has tried to justify its actions by claiming its rules forbid political signs in front of homes. Or to put it another way, joining this HOA means you cancel your first amendment rights to free speech.

Obviously, those HOA rules were originally intended to prevent some homes from being plastered with many ugly political signs and banners. Now however they have been twisted to ban any political statement, all because a single person might complain.

Note too that this story is not unique. A simple web search comes up with numerous other stories (in Florida, South Carolina, Colorado, Texas and elsewhere) where HOA’s have attempted to ban the thin blue line flag. It appears HOA officials and others no longer honor the first amendment or free speech, and are using their power to silence it.

The response of the neighbors in Cumberland Crossing however is the right answer: More speech. Don’t comply. Don’t bow. Stand strong and increase the protest. As noted in the first link above:

The Cumberland Cross HOA is stuck – do they wish to fine every person on Mr. DiSario’s street and cause an even greater controversy? We’ll see. They are already the bad guys in this controversy. We’ll see how well they do with the continued publicity.

I strongly suspect the HOA will soon back down.

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    Geeze people. Don’t move into HOAs if you don’t like their rules. Personally, I would never live under one…er I mean in one.

  • Andi

    So we can assume that this HOA will also ban BLM and rainbow flags?

    I’m not holding my breath.

  • Shadow Chaser

    To the top commenter: doing that gets more difficult by the day. Easier said than done is some cases. That being said, the existence of HOAs are why I’d want to stay out in the country if possible.

  • James Street

    “It appears HOA officials and others no longer honor the first amendment or free speech, and are using their power to silence it.”

    Also never underestimate the stupidity of liberals.

    Q: What do you call a group of Karens?
    A: A Homeowner’s Association.

  • Whiskey1Bravo

    These articles about “HOA” officials telling people what they can and can’t do in their own yards is a joke, a bad one.
    They sound like the few un Americans when Britain rule over us who spy on their neighbors and ran in a heart beat to dime on them saying “Hey Peter Smitty is flying a flag with a snake on it that said ” Don’t tread on me” or I saw him with three different guns teaching his kids how to shoot.
    Nothing but a bunch of un American “Kiss A ” Karen’s libtard. Can’t they be voted out or replace somehow.

  • Mike

    To the people complaining about HOA’s –
    Be an adult and follow the rules of the CONTRACT you signed.
    Everyone is special and deserves special dispensation, these days I guess. Even the people claiming not to be snowflakes.
    You don’t like someone telling you how you can decorate your house? The solution is pretty simple.

  • Ben

    The thin blue line symbolized a nationwide gang of sovereign citizens who think they are above the law and frequently and with joy violate our rights. And when they aren’t being bullies, extortionists, and road pirates enforcing their revenue streams with violence, they are being cowards who won’t run into a building to save children.

    Don’t defend the thin blue line cowards. We need to redo policing. Not defund, but get rid of the sovereign citizens, the extortionists, the sadists, and the cowards.

    And if you wear a thin blue line flag, you are just showing that you put your gang above the United States of America. And real American flag isn’t good enough, you have to besmirch it with your fake.

  • Udum

    Back the Uvalde police!

  • Rdm

    The home owners associations are often ridiculous, asking for literally impossible things. I’m speaking from a horticultural standpoint here but …. A neighbor of my parents has a big tree in their yard. It was there when they moved in. They aren’t allowed to remove the tree. They are also required to have a Bermudagrass front yard. Which can’t grow in the shade of the tree which in their front yard which they can’t remove. It’s far from the only physically impossible thing I see customers come asking solutions for regarding things homeowner associations hassle ‘asked’ them to do.

  • SDN

    To Mike: Contracts impose obligations on both sides. The contract the HOA is enforcing isn’t the one they were misled into signing.

  • Doug Jones

    Mike, the trouble with HOA’s is mission creep or the camel’s nose in the tent. Sure, the basic charter of pretty much any HOA is innocuous, even if some clauses are dodgy. Then you get a power-hungry idjit into position and they go nuts. All for your own good, of course:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    ― C. S. Lewis

  • Tim

    Dear Mike,

    It all depends on who is intrepreting the rules does it not? One mans thin blue line flag might be to honor his slain police officer son, while to another it is a political statement. Or it might be neighbors supporting their neighbor as he comes under attack. But YOUR intent in flying the flag should be the overriding concern, now how some Karen takes it.

    But my advice is to stay the hell out of neighborhoods with HOAs. Because the busybodies who like a little power for the sake of having the power tend to end up in charge.

  • John Yesford

    Back in the 90s, I was on the board of an HOA (in large part to make sure my HOA didn’t do stupid stuff like this). There are federal laws that restrict how much an HOA is able to interfere with residents’ political speech. The HOA can not ban political speech, but it can have reasonable regulations. It can’t ban political yard signs unless they ban ALL yard signs (and since they would never ban signs for selling the property …). On flags, they are even more limited. Mostly what they can do about flags is limit the size and number.

  • Mark Kaulius

    Simple Solution. Organize your neighbors. Run for the HOA board. Take it over. Then go after the people who were on the previous board…unless they were opposed to the silliness. That is what we did to HOA were I lived in a burb south of DC. (location ties to the politics of the area – this was way before VA went stupid).

  • jbspry

    HOA: Home Owners’ Association

    The association belongs to the Home Owners, correct? It is their baby, their property, their quasi-governmental entity.
    Get together, change the rules and schidtcan the fascists currently holding all the power.



  • Christina Laczko

    I am president of our HOA. Political signs mean election materials with someone’s name on it. Ornamental flags are not political. Thin blue line would count as ornamental. So are service flags like Marine Corps or Navy. We get a lot for Army Navy game.

    Also, as a board you can tell complainers to go pound. We do it all the time. Seems sidewalk chalk bothers nasty old ladies and they send emails. Flags, plants, trash and pets, those are constant emails. Kids is a whole category by itself. We ignore most unless it is truly against the rules.

  • BLSinSC

    Not all “Karens” are created insane!! We have several KARENS as relatives and friends and I can tell you that ONE of OUR KARENS would not have needed the Police to “FIND” the idiot who messed with the Flags – he’d be sleeping peacefully right beside the “rock” until the Police nudged him awake to haul him off for Trespassing (Life Sentence in Washington DC) and Assault! I think we should refer to them as LEFTIST KARENS!!

    Good for the neighbors to show their support – sorry that it has to be like this!

  • Gary H

    My neighborhood is saturated with American and Texas flags. Half-mast flags are everywhere in Northern Texas. Most of us support the rank and file police, but recently the field command officers failed their community.

    The months leading up to the midterm elections will see the left burning and looting. Once again the field officers will have an impossible job. This is why the blue line is so thin.

  • That was one of my TOP requirements for the home we recently purchased – no HOA.

  • James Stephens

    No more HOAs for me. When I lived under one it was miserable. I swear it existed only to generate fees for the housing developer and the HOA made up rules on the fly. I got the hell out as soon as I could and sold the house at a loss, also against the rules. I’m reminded of the X-Files episode, Arcadia.

  • suburbanbanshee

    Don’t forget that HOAs often change their rules to allow fines, and then they fine everybody for everything, and then they use this “debt” to foreclose on your home and sell it. And that money goes into the HOA’s pockets.

  • Luke

    The HOA contracts I’ve seen, mostly seemed to be about providing the developer with a continuing revenue stream. It was theoretically possible for a majority of the homeowners to take control of the association after most of the development was sold, but it would take solidarity, a lawyer, and jumping through an awful lot of hoops.
    And even if you succeeded, very long term contracts had already been signed.

    I started out believing that HOAs are a violation of property rights, which might be justified in some extreme cases, but were much too common. .
    I’ve evolved into thinking that they’re just evil.

  • askeptic

    The solution to one aspect of this incident is simple:
    Trespassers should be shot!

  • Zulu Time

    Why is it that these HOAs seem to attract the worst examples of the “Karen’s & their transgender equivalents” in our society? Could it have something to do with “control”?

  • DallasDallas

    Blue line flags are verboten, but BLM, pride, Biden and antifa flags are not? Clear double standard.

  • Jose C.

    I wonder if they would request all rainbow flags, BLM flags, etc. be removed.

  • Alton

    Luke……..Evil is Never Just.

  • “Geeze people. Don’t move into HOAs if you don’t like their rules. Personally, I would never live under one…er I mean in one.”

    I agree that I’d never live in a community with an HOA, but in the guy’s defense there’s a big difference between blatantly violating the HOA rules you agreed to when you moved in and the HOA re-interpreting the rules to claim something you’ve been doing for years is forbidden.

    In what world is a flag on a flagpole defined as a “sign”? The US flag is a political symbol and flying it makes a political statement. Why isn’t it banned in this HOA? I wonder how many LGBTQEIEIO flags you’d find in the neighborhood were one to drive through. Are those considered banned as political signs?

    This is the HOA making a political statement. Possibly even only one or two people at the HOA doing so. It’s petty tyranny and kudos to the community for standing up to it.

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