Most apartment complexes make you agree to a few standard rules: reasonable sound levels, paying your rent on time and keeping outdoor spaces clean.
Samuel Adams, of Greeley, Colorado, didn’t think he was violating any rules when he decided to hang an American flag on his balcony railing. But management officials of his apartment complex left him a letter last week that compared the flag to clutter, and said it had to be removed.
“Please be advised that it has come to management’s attention that you have an American flag on the balcony/patio area. Your signed Community Policies states, ‘The use of balconies and patios for the purpose of storage and/or laundry drying is prohibited. Breezeways are not to be used as a patio or storage. Please do not clutter with personal belongings,” the letter reads in part. “Balconies and patios must be maintained in a neat, clean and attractive condition. Outdoor and/or patio furniture is welcomed on your patio or balcony only.”
Adams, who coincidentally shares a name with one of the Founding Fathers, told the Greeley Tribune he was immediately filled with disbelief and anger when he read the letter. He posted a video on YouTube and Facebook, reading the letter in while leaning on the railing with the American flag displayed. He said he hung it in preparation for the Fourth of July.
The video was shared on Facebook more than 1,300 times and viewed more than 250,000 times.
Pamela Buchanan, the Sterling Heights Community Manager, told the Greeley Tribune that the complex had no problem with displaying American flags, but residents are not allowed to use their balconies to display decorations, signs or flags, per their lease.
“Sterling Heights seeks to be fair to residents by limiting displays as there could be signs, flags or decorations that may be offensive and disruptive to the community,” Buchanan said.
Sterling Heights officials later said residents could display flags for the Fourth of July holiday.
Adams said he would keep the flag up after the holiday even if it means he will be evicted. Though he is not a veteran, he said his grandfather served as a U.S. Army surgeon in World War I, and his father was a dentist in the U.S. Navy.
“I thought this was just going to be a whisper but it has avalanched,” he told the Greeley Tribune. “I’m the kind of guy that when I see a man or woman in a uniform, I go up to them and say, ‘thank you for your service.’ I gladly accept the responsibility given to me of standing up for the veterans and families that have reached out to me.”
Adams accused the complex officials of being hypocrites in a Facebook post last week, saying they had just put up an American flag outside the main office building but wouldn’t allow him to display one. He said they didn’t put up the flag until after Adams’ issue had received media attention.
In another Facebook post, Adams repeatedly asked people to not threaten the staff of Sterling Heights.
Commenters on the incident were mixed, with most expressing support for Adams’ patriotism. But some thought he was overreacting.
“Not really a big deal,” the top comment on YouTube stated. “You signed the agreement.”