Muncie, Ind. has broadened its ban on flags at a campground to include the Stars and Stripes, according to a report in the Associated Press.
The move could help strengthen the city’s case against a lawsuit that challenged its original order outlawing the Confederate and other flags, the mayor said.
Police distributed notices Monday (Aug. 23) at Prairie Creek Reservoir, a city-run campground about 10 miles southeast of Muncie, which outlined the new order issued by Mayor Dan Canan.
The U.S. flag and POW/MIA flags had formerly been exempt.
Canan said he had consulted with attorneys and decided to widen the ban to bolster the city’s defense against a lawsuit filed by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.
“That’s not really what I’d like to do,” Canan said. “I believe in patriotism, and I believe in America.”
The ICLU filed a federal lawsuit Aug. 10 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on behalf of longtime camper Tommy Wallace, who had displayed a Confederate flag on his trailer for more than a decade.
The lawsuit alleged that city officials threatened to evict Wallace if he did not remove the flag and contended that the ban violated his free speech rights.
“The original lawsuit challenged the fact that the mayor had selectively banned flags, excepting the U.S. flag,” ICLU attorney Ken Falk told the Associated Press in a phone interview Monday night. “That does not mean, however, that banning all flags is constitutional.”
The ICLU will amend its complaint to include the new ban, Falk said. Meanwhile, he said that he had advised Wallace to abide by the new rule.
The city created the ban after it received complaints that the campground has become a taxpayer-subsidized, semi-permanent trailer park nicknamed “Springerville” after the Jerry Springer television show.
Some campers and veterans were upset when police and park rangers told them they must remove their flags.
Steve Short, chief administrative officer of the Indiana American Legion, said that flying Old Glory should not be prohibited under any circumstances, especially during a war. The American Legion may ask Canan to reconsider the ban, he said