A Florida small business owner said Monday the city of Ocala has threatened to fine him if he does not immediately take down a Gadsden flag currently displayed outside his store.
Gear Barrel owner Keith Greenberg told TheBlaze that the city said he was permitted to fly the American flag outside his store, but prohibited from displaying anything else outside his business which specializes in selling knives.
“This is a shock,” he said. “Honestly, I feel like this is Russia. I’ve been around the world … this is what you expect in really closed countries where there is no freedom of expression. Not here — so it’s shocking.”
[sharequote align=”center”]”This is a shock. Honestly, I feel like this is Russia.”[/sharequote]
The flying of the flag appears to be prohibited under the city code of ordinance, section 110-131.
Greenberg told TheBlaze he faces being fined up to $250-$500 per day if he does not comply. He said the potential fines would be devastating to his young small business, which he opened in May.
“The city of Ocala is demanding I take this down,” he told TheBlaze.
Greenberg posted a video to YouTube earlier this month trying to raise awareness of the move being made by the city.
“We find ourselves in a sad place where local municipalities are stepping all over people’s freedom with the signing of a pen,” he said.
Greenberg told TheBlaze he was even more perplexed by the city’s demands because he has spotted other flags being flown at nearby establishments.
Photographs forwarded to TheBlaze show an Ocala car dealership flying the Mexican flag and an Irish bar displaying the Irish flag. It was not clear whether or not the city had also issued similar notices to the other businesses.
The city’s code enforcement office could not immediately be reached Monday night for comment by TheBlaze.
The small business owner said his next move will be to address the city council at their next meeting.
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