An Albany, Georgia, business owner probably thought he was merely exercising his rights and exemplifying his patriotism by flying an American flag outside of his business. But when he received a ticket and was threatened with jail time, what started as a simple display of pride for one's country has now become a legal conundrum.
Apparently Tom Gieryic’s flag, which had been outside of his automotive repair shop for more than three decades, was in violation of the city's sign ordinance. An enforcement officer apparently told Gieryic that his flag wasn't up to code. The issue unfolded, he says, when a group of retired Marines offered to put up a new flag at the shop. WALB.com has more:
A group of retired Marines retired his old flag and placed a new one on the pole Friday, when four hours later, code enforcement showed up concerning a 311 complaint about a small sign in the front of his business.
It wasn't his and was taken down, then Officer Ruth Lewis raised issues with the flag. "She told me my American flag was a non-conforming or illegal flag, placed on the city's right of way."
"I was shocked, man – a complete loss for words. I told [the enforcement officer] I wasn’t going to be moving my flag," he said in an interview with FOX News. "She stomped off to her car, got her ticket book and demanded my license. She wrote me a ticket for flying my American flag on the city’s right of way."
Gieryic claims that the officer said he could face a $1,000 per day fine and up to 60 days in jail if he refused to comply. But rather than buckling under the pressure and purported threats, he says he stood firm and kept the flag where it was. He decided to take the issue up with city officials and the ticket was subsequently reduced to a warning. Still, officials would like the flag moved by one foot.
"I’m boiling on the inside. They didn’t demand that I move it. They suggested I do it as a gesture of good will," Gieryic explained.
The business owner isn't shutting his mouth or backing down, as he says he'd like the law changed. Lawyers and people in the community, too, are joining him and pledging support.
"My local city manager has been more than fair," he said. "He stands behind me, but the law is the law and his hands are tied."
Gieryic is angry over the government's involvement in issues he believes shouldn't concern officials. He claims that he's an American and that he should have every right to fly the nation's flag wherever he wants, so long as there is no safety issues associated with doing so.
"That flag represents my dad to me that's no longer with us, it represents our freedom, everything good about our county," he also said.
(H/T: FOX News)