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A dozen homes now flying Thin Blue Line flags after HOA orders military veteran neighbor to take his down over its 'political' message

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Image source: YouTube screenshot, composite

After a homeowner's association recently told an Ohio military veteran he had to take down the Thin Blue Line flag he's been flying for five years in honor of his police chief son who was killed while responding to a call, about a dozen of Tom DiSario's neighbors responded in solidarity by flying Thin Blue Line flags of their own.

What's more, a caravan of about 20 cruisers from various Licking County law enforcement agencies on Friday evening drove past the Etna home DiSario shares with his wife Belinda — as their own Thin Blue Line flag continued flying — in a show of support, WBNS-TV reported.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Image source: YouTube screenshot

What's the background?

DiSario received a letter last week from Omni Community Association Managers saying the "political sign in the form of a flag must be removed from your property," WCMH-TV reported.

DiSario has been flying the Thin Blue Line flag in his front yard ever since his son Steven Eric DiSario — the newly appointed Kirkersville police chief — was gunned down May 12, 2017, the station said.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

DiSario's son was only 38 years old and a father of six — with a seventh on the way — when he was killed, WCMH said.

'A political statement'

The HOA letter read, in part, that "the flag on your pole is not a United States flag. It is a political statement. Please remove the flag from your property,” the station said.

But DiSario told WCMH he "spent 23 years in the military, and there’s no way, shape, or form that flag is being flown disrespectful at all. It has a 4-by-6 American flag above it, and the police flag is ... 3-by-5 below it. It is not bigger than the top flag."

“It represents my son and nothing else," he added to the station. "So I don’t know why everybody is now harassing me that I have to take it down.”

What did the HOA have to say?

David Dye, Omni Community Association Managers president, told the station the HOA received a complaint about the flag and then sent the letter to DiSario instructing him to take down the flag.

“They bought into the community with rules,” Dye told the station. “He agreed by buying in this community that he can’t display what he wants to display.”

Dye also explained to WCMH how a flag can count as a sign.

“Sometimes signs masquerade as flags or as light displays, as examples,” he told the station. “The board has adopted this and, as a sign, we don’t get to judge what it says. We have had to ask people to remove a sign advertising a nativity display, as an example. It doesn’t matter whether we agree. If it’s a sign, you are not allowed to post it, according to the deed restrictions.”

'When the controversy arose, we ordered one'

It would appear that the HOA now has a few more letters to mail, as a dozen Thin Blue Line flags were flying in the Cumberland Crossing neighborhood by Monday, WBNS said.

“We support his decision,” neighbor Lori Shoemaker — a new flyer of the Thin Blue Line flag — told the station of DiSario's memorial. “I don’t see this flag as being political.”

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Neighbors Wally Baumbusch and Matt Westlake agree, telling WBNS the flag isn't political.

“I did not have it in my yard before, but when the controversy arose, we ordered one,” Baumbusch added to the station.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Westlake has family in law enforcement, and he noted to WBNS that DiSario’s Thin Blue Line flag is no different than making a rock garden for a deceased loved one.

“That’s a memorial for his son,” Westlake told the station.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

An Omni representative told WBNS the rule can change if the board moves to amend the deed restrictions, after which 75 percent of the homeowners must vote in the affirmative. But the HOA added that the biggest challenge would be deciding again what's acceptable, telling the station the average homeowner isn't aware of legal implications that may be ahead.

'I'm an American first'

For Baumbusch, it's a matter of civic duty.

"At the end of the day, I’m an American first," he told WBNS, adding that flying the Thin Blue Line flag is a constitutional right worth defending.

“We have to protect it,” he noted to the station. “And if that means we got to do a little head-butting with our HOA, then I guess that’s what we’ll do.”

Neighborhood fights back, puts up police flags after Licking County resident told to remove it youtu.be

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