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Source: KATU News
Date: October 12, 2009
Byline: Melica Johnson

Apartment residents told to take down U.S. flags

ALBANY, Ore. — At the Oaks Apartments in Albany, the management can fly their own flag advertising one and two bedroom apartments — but residents have been told they can't fly any flags at all.

Jim Clausen flies the American flag from the back of his motorcycle. He has a son in the military heading back to Iraq, and the flag — he said — is his way of showing support.

"This flag stands for all those people," said Clausen, an Oaks Apartment resident. "It stands for the people that can no longer stand — who died in wars. That's why I fly this flag."

But to Oaks Apartment management, Clausen said, the American flag symbolizes problems.

He was told to remove the red, white and blue from both of his rides, or face eviction.

"It floored me," he said. "I can't believe she was saying what she was saying."

Even long-time residents like Sharron White, who has flown a flag on her car for eight years, has been told to take it down.

White said management told her that "someone might get offended."

"I just said to her 'They'll just have to get over it,'" White said.

Resident we talked to who had been approached to take down their flags all told us the same thing: that management told them the flags could be offensive because they live in a diverse community.

Attempts to find out for ourselves why management would ban flags were unsuccessful. KATU wanted to talk to management at Oaks Apartments, but no one has returned our calls. The woman we were told had made the decision said she was "not going to answer any questions."

National Guard signThe mother of one soldier fighting in Iraq put up a poster in her son's apartment window when she learned of the ban. Her son's roommate said he'll risk eviction to make sure it stays.

Another Oaks Apartment resident, Judith Sherer, doesn't have a car. Instead she carries an American flag around the complex to protest the ban, and wonders if the flag pin she wears is next to be "singled out."

"If I put it on and I walk outside, what's going to happen?" Sherer muses. "Am I going to be confronted by a manager about this?"

We're told the ban includes sports flags and even flag stickers on cars.

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