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Facing fines, lawsuit, father of slain Kirkersville Police Chief takes down 'thin blue line' flag

After more than five years of flying the thin blue line flag outside of his house, Tom Disario had to take down the flag that he put up to honor his son.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a months-long legal battle, Tom Disario has taken down the flag that he says honored his late son, Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric Disario, who was killed in the line of duty in May 2017.

In May of 2022, Disario received a letter from the OMNI Community Association Managers on behalf of his HOA saying the thin blue line flag was “a political statement,” which went against the deed he agreed to and signed.

“To me, [the flag] represents my son,” Disario told 10TV in May.

Vowing not to take it down, Disario’s neighbors began putting up flags of their own. OMNI said to change the rule it required 75% of homeowners to agree to the change. 

Disario said there was a vote where about 50 people voted in favor of the change with no opposition, but it wasn’t the majority of all homeowners.

Wednesday morning, standing in his front yard, the day he never wanted to see showed up. After a salute to his flag, Disario unwrapped the ropes on his flag pole to take the flag down.

Disario was told this week that he had 10 days to take it down or be fined $175 and face a lawsuit. Other homeowners have also taken down their flags.

“[I’m] upset,” Disario said. “[I’m] pissed.”

It’s a meaning that he said is still worth fighting for.

“Every officer in the state of Ohio when I’m done will be able to fly this flag without any HOA telling them to take it down,” he said.

Disario plans to file a discrimination lawsuit.

“That is total BS when you’ve got over 40, 50 people in here that can fly or put all this crap on their doors and not get nothing,” Disario said.

OMNI calls those decorations, not signage.

The thin blue line flag has been flown by white supremacists, leading some to believe it’s racist by association.

But, not to Disario.

“This flag here should represent the police officers that are killed in the line of duty every single day,” Disario said.

Remembering the fallen. Remembering his son.

“He would be proud of me,” Disario said of his son. “He would.”

Hoping that one day a father’s love will prevail.

“I will fight until I have no breath in me,” he said. “This will be approved.”

House Bill 712 would prohibit restrictions on the display of the thin blue line flag. It looks to be considered in 2023.

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