Colorado chaplain gets national support in flag controversy

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DENVER (KDVR) – A Colorado police chaplain is receiving national support in his fight to keep his “thin blue line” American flag flying, despite being told by his homeowners association that he needed to take it down.

The National Police Association, which is a nonprofit with a mission of educating supporters of law enforcement in how to help police departments accomplish their goals, reached out to the FOX31 Problem Solvers after our initial story aired on June 23. The group then retained Denver attorney Craig Silverman to help get the issue resolved.

The chaplain said, “It’s actually been overwhelming to see the support I’ve been given. There are pages upon pages of people saying, ‘Thank you, chaplain. Standup, don’t take it down. We really appreciate you.’ It made me very happy.”

He said having the backing of the National Police Association is “humbling.”

The chaplain received a notice from his HOA on June 3, saying “it was observed there is a ‘white lives matter flag’” hanging in front of his home. The chaplain says the thin blue line American flag stands for the sacrifice law enforcement officers make.

“There’s nothing about racism at all there. It’s simply saying, ‘We stand for you. You continue to do all the great things you do.’ I serve with so many different officers of so many different ethnic backgrounds. I’ve shared it with them. This isn’t a white lives, this is a blue lives matter, because they do,” he said.

“That was outrageous, calling it a ‘white lives matter’ flag. My goodness, to be a police officer in this day in age it takes a lot of courage. Now there are some bad apples and we all want to get rid of them but if comes to the point in America where we don’t support the police, we are in a lot of trouble,” Silverman said, adding, “The National Police Association fully backs these homeowners. They have every right in that community to fly their flag. In that neighborhood, you see all sorts of flags and signs displaying people’s beliefs or celebrating graduation. I would call it a classic, suburban American neighborhood. I believe there is a mix of Democrats, Republicans, people who support Black Lives Matter, people more prone to support police. But I don’t think it needs to be oppositional. We all want to live in a great America. My clients have a right to fly that American flag on their property and they will continue to do so.”

Silverman sent a letter to the HOA and the property management company asking that they withdraw the letter and their demands.

“There is a law called Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, which prohibits homeowners associations from restricting homeowners from flying the American flag. My clients have a variation on the flag — one thin blue line indicating support for police officers. Think about it: at the beginning of this pandemic, people celebrated first responders and police officers — what heroism our essential workers (have) braving this pandemic. Then with the terrible murder or George Floyd, it turned on a dime. This is the time police need support and they’re going to give it by flying this thin blue line American flag and there’s no reason they should stop,” he said.

The chaplain said, “When there’s been a time police officers have felt forgotten, that they are not cared for and not loved, I went to roll calls and let them know it’s just the opposite. Many, many people love them and support them. I can’t even thank Craig enough for sending the letter, for standing with us to say we need to stop this. We do live in America, we do live in a free country. I would like an apology and would like them to let us continue to have the freedoms we are supposed to have in America.”

Silverman said they are prepared to go to a hearing if that is what the HOA would like, and they are also prepared to go to court, although he hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“There are interesting rules when it comes to HOAs,  but the issues of American flags have been addressed by our federal government and by Colorado. People are allowed to fly the American flag. God forbid we get to that day when that is not allowed,” Silverman said.

The chaplain said, “My officers are amazing people that give everything, the shirt off their backs. And I want people to know that. They are amazing people who continue to serve and protect. God has asked for people to protect those who cannot protect themselves. That is what the flag stands for.”

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