Local flag fight gets national attention

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - News of Larry Murphree’s flag fight has spread across the country.

The Southside homeowner has been at odds with his Homeowner’s Association for years, but it finally came to a head a few weeks ago. That’s when Murphree got a letter from a law office saying he owed more than $8,000 in HOA fees, and could have a foreclosure lien placed on his home.

“I want it to go away. It’s such a minor little thing and they keep coming after me,” he explained.

Murphree was featured on Fox and Friends Wednesday morning, and has even been offered free services by First Amendment Attorney Luke Lirot out of Clearwater.

VIDEO: Watch the video at video.foxnews.com

The battle stems over an American flag Murphree put in the flower pot outside his home. The Sweetwater by Del Webb Master Homeowners Association has certain rules on where the flag can be displayed, but Murphree believes the stars and stripes should be flown anywhere. State and federal law back him up. According to legislation signed in 2005, HOA’s have no say so over where a flag is displayed. One homeowner, who lives in the same Sweetwater community  Murphree does, says the fines and legal trouble have nothing to do with the flag.

“Our association has rules and regulations in place regarding flying the American Flag and does not prohibit proper use in any way.  Numerous residents in our community honor and fly the American Flag in a proper manner,” Mary Lahan said.

Last year, Murphree filed a lawsuit and settled out of court. He says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support and won’t stop until he can freely fly his patriotic right. 

The Sweetwater by Del Webb Master Homeowners Association is located at 9039 Del Webb Parkway.  You can contact the HOA on its website.

The Tides Condominium Association released this statement to Action News Tuesday afternoon:

The Tides Condominium Association agrees with Mr. Murphree about demonstrating patriotism by flying our US flag. Because we take this patriotic act seriously, we have established rules that conform with the US Code and Florida statutes regarding flag etiquette. These include such things as flying a flag only during daylight hours, or lighting it if flown at night. We encourage residents to fly American flags in accordance with these state and national standards. A federal court challenge to our rules was unsuccessful.

Despite Mr. Murphree’s claims to the contrary, the Tides Condominium Association is not pursuing legal action against him for his disrespectful flag display. We seek the monies due to the Association from Mr. Murphree and other owners whose accounts are delinquent. The Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the Association and all its residents. This includes ensuring that all monies due to the Association are collected. We prefer such payments to be made voluntarily, but when they are not, after due notice, we take all appropriate legal steps to ensure the financial soundness of our Association.