A year-old conflict over a large American flag flying outside a Gander RV store in Statesville has prompted a lawsuit and turned into a larger issue for the local community.
The lawsuit was filed by the City of Statesville, North Carolina, against Camping World, the company responsible for flying the flag.
The company flies the 40-by-30 flag outside its Gander RV location to honor military veterans. The lawsuit filed by the city says that a flag bigger than 25 by 40 feet can’t be hoisted within 100 feet of a highway, reported WSOCTV.
Camping World has started a campaign against the lawsuit on social media and received wider community support, with over 138,000 signatures on Change.org and more than 13,000 likes and 7,000 shares on Facebook.
— Tom Haeg (@tomhaeg) May 22, 2019
“The City of Statesville, North Carolina has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to require Gander RV in Statesville, NC to take down their American Flag. They are imposing a $50/day fine retroactive to 10/15/18,” Camping World wrote in its Facebook post and also on its Change.org petition.
The company said many cities like Statesville have requested large American flags be taken down.
“WE WON’T DO IT!” it said in the Facebook post. “This is about more than just the flag. This is about our Veterans, Military, and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country. They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will NOT take it down!”
The city had made exemptions last year and allowed a flag larger than its guidelines, but not as big as the one flown by the company.
Camping World and Gander RV’s CEO Marcus Lemonis told Channel 9 that 200 such large-sized flags are outside its stores all across the country, including in many cities of North Carolina, according to WSOCTV.
“I don’t care if it goes to $500 a day. It’s not coming down,” Lemonis said.
Lemonis said the issue is of personal importance to him. “My family has been car dealers, had been car dealers since the 1960s, and our key trademark was always flying our flag in our dealership in South Florida,” he said. “My family is largely immigrants of the country.”
Media reports indicate that the city tried to amend its rules to allow a flag of that size but the motion was defeated three to five.
WSOCTV quotes a spokesperson from the city who said that the authorities filed a lawsuit after asking the company several times to replace the flag.
— FOX6 News (@fox6now) May 22, 2019
The company’s post on Facebook has promoted over 5,000 comments.
“Love the American flag and the Men and Women who have served and fought to protect it. Love the flag at Camping World in Statesville, NC. This flag is beautiful and causes no obstructions to traffic. It is a beautiful sight. I know of people who have even traveled to Statesville just to see it proudly wave. KEEP THE FLAG!” Kathy Johnson commented.
Many people appreciate Camping World for taking a stand and many others said they see the flag while driving around the city.
“Thank you camping world !! I appreciate you taking a stand, that flag is beautiful. And I’m proud to see it every time I drive by. It’s not a distraction! If anything its a reality check!!” wrote Dennis Norway.
“I hope this is not true. I don’t shop there but I love seeing the HUGE American Flag waving gracefully every time I pass her,” wrote Crystal Howell.