Rental Company Reverses Flag Ban

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Renters can fly their American flags without worry following a change of heart by their rental company in Whitehall.

Management had ordered the flag removal last week in the Villas and Estates at Eden of Whitehall, but 10TV has learned that at least one renter received a letter Friday morning stating they had been given permission to display the flag.

New Life Properties of Ohio owns and manages the complexes.

Dimitri Hatzifotinos represents the company and says New Life has decided to allow the flags because it had been cast in a false light in some media reports.

"Maybe it just takes one person to stand up for things," said Julia Lease. She lives in Estates at Eden resident. The complex told her to remove her flag last week and she refused.  

Hatzifotinos says New Life has a policy against displays being affixed to their buildings in order to promote consistency and to preserve community appearance.  

He tells 10TV New Life originally asked Lease to remove her flag to maintain consistency and ultimately to comply with anti-discrimination laws.

"I never even gave a thought to the fact that in this country they would say you can't fly the American flag," Lease said.

After doing several media interviews, Lease received a letter from the management company granting her permission to fly the flag.

"Do they really believe in the American flag or are they just buckling down to pressure?" she asked.

Sara Woods says she was also told by management to remove her flag.

"I was mad," Woods said. "Downright mad."

Unlike Lease, Woods has yet to receive official permission to keep her flag on display.

"They can do as they please. It will continue to hang at my house," she said.

Woods and Lease tell 10TV they are going to meet with activist groups from across the state on Sunday to show their support of flying the American flag.

The rally is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday outside the leasing office at 4470 East Broad Street.

"We are allowed to fly whatever flags we want," said Jeremy Deeter of Unite Ohio, one of the activist groups planning to rally in Whitehall.

Deter says that by asking residents to take down their American flags, New Life was violating the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005.

"We're educated, we know our rights, and we're gonna stand for them," he said.

The residents say fighting for the flag is the least they can do because of what it represents.

"The flag is something that stands for freedom and for the men and women who fought and died for our country," Woods said.

New Life says that it has elected to allow Lease to maintain her flag and will ultimately be forced to allow flags from other nationalities to be displayed.