OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — An Overland Park couple was outraged after they say their apartment complex asked them to remove an American flag from their balcony — or lose their lease.
Nick and Elizabeth Shandy received a notice Wednesday from the Highland Park apartment complex in Overland Park — where they’ve lived for six months — notifying them to remove their American flag, as it did not comply with the lease agreement.
“I was confused, and I went outside and looked to see what exactly they were talking about, I was like, is it our flag? Is there another flag out there? Surely, it`s not the American flag,” said Nick Shandy.
They bought a small flag at a dollar store, and it simply sits on the edge of their balcony.
“I was really upset, a little disappointed that was an issue at first,” added Shandy.
Shandy called the office to make sure he understood correctly.
“In the lease they stated that any personal property, other than furniture, we cannot have out there,” Shandy said. “They said nope, can`t have the American flag up there, and I told them I`m not going to take the American flag down, so what are you guys going to do if I don`t take it down? And they said they would give me a final warning, and then they would terminate my lease.”
According to the ACLU of Kansas — the apartment complex can legally ask them to remove it.
“The first amendment only applies to government action. And so people have a right to free speech, and the government can`t interfere with that right, but private entities, like an apartment complex, can impose rules that restrict people`s right to free speech,” said Doug Bonney, the Legal Director of the ACLU of Kansas.
Shandy emailed the management to explain the situation. They sent him an email with an apology, and said they’ve had some recent concerns regarding political signage and sports teams flags on property, but the American flag is fine.
“I am happy that I can have my flag up, but I am still a little upset that they told me to take it down in the first place,” Shandy added.
Shandy is in the military, and said with Veteran`s Day and the election coming up he felt like it`s very important to be patriotic. Shandy said he’s going to write to the Kansas legislature to see if they can get the laws changed.