Greeley apartment complex changes policy after asking man to remove American flag from balcony
June 30, 2016
Samuel Adams found a letter waiting for him June 22 at his Greeley, Colo., apartment from the Sterling Heights complex management, asking him to remove his American flag from his apartment's balcony railing. He had hung the flag as decoration for the Independence Day holiday.
Immediately filled with disbelief and anger, Adams then recorded and posted a video to Facebook and Youtube expressing his frustration and reading the letter from his balcony — American flag still hanging. The video was shared thousands of times.
"I have never done anything like this before," he said. "But it was the right time and it was the right moment. I wanted to be a patriotic American and give tribute to our founding fathers and our veterans, and to have (management) say the flag is inappropriate or comparable to trash is reprehensible to me."
According to Sterling Heights Community Manager Pamela Buchanan, the apartment complex, located at 2420 Reservoir Road in Greeley, does not have any problems with residents flying the American flag. However, at the time of the incident, she said residents were not allowed to use their balconies to display decorations, signs or flags, per their lease.
"Sterling Heights seeks to be fair to residents by limiting displays as there could be signs, flags or decorations that may be offensive and disruptive to the community," she said in an email.
On June 27, Adams received a letter from Drake Powell, principal of Echelon Property Group, apologizing for the actions taken by management, and explaining a more detailed set of rules for flags at the complex.
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Echelon Property Group is a private real estate firm based in Greenwood Village that oversees the Sterling Heights, 2420 Reservoir Road in Greeley.
"In response to the notice you received last week regarding the displaying of an American flag on your balcony, we sincerely apologize for the request to remove it and the reaction this has caused," the letter from Powell states. "The notice was not intended to be un-American, unpatriotic or insensitive to all that our great country stands for. This request was one of several made in the ordinary course of business regarding the upkeep and maintenance of our community."
In the letter, Powell clarified a new policy for residents regarding flags on balconies. Residents are now allowed to display the United States and Colorado flags on their balconies and patios, as long as their installation does not severely damage the property.
"The flag must be hung in a respectful manner in a stand so it falls freely," the letter states.
In a phone interview, Powell said the company's original balcony and patio policies were ambiguous, which is why the clarifications were made.
"It has been our policy to make sure that our communities are kept up nicely and that things are clean and crisp throughout the properties and balconies," he said. "Unfortunately, our manager took that notion to an extreme. I think Sam obviously raised a great point that (the flag) is not something we should be telling people they can't demonstrate or fly. But our hope is that people will be consistent with the rest of the community policies, too."
He said he hoped the specificity of the new policy will help the company's management teams better understand how to enforce rules in the future.
Powell also said the company chose to allow only the U.S. and Colorado flags to be displayed to adhere to the company's policies of equality and consistency. Since most of the state's municipalities restrict flags to state and federal flags, he said following this lead was the best way to ensure fairness to residents. Sports flags or other personal flags will still be restricted from public display.
"It seemed like a reasonable limitation because that's what public buildings in Colorado go by," he said.
Adams said he is appreciative of the change, and he does plan to display the flag all year. He also said he is in disbelief about the attention his video has gained in the past week.
He said he received a lot of support from veterans and military families, thanking him for standing up for the flag. Although he has received some negative feedback, it doesn't affect him because many veterans have showed up to his doorstep personally to shake his hand and offer their support, he said.
Adams' grandfather served as a U.S. Army surgeon in World War I, and his father was a dentist in the U.S. Navy. Adams himself is not a veteran.
Adams attributed the change in policy to the supporters of his video that voiced their opinions.
"If it were just up to me, nothing would have been done," he said. "It was because of the voice of the people that things were changed. I was just the channel."