Ohio bill would protect pro-police flags from landlords and homeowners associations

Thin blue line
Posted at 7:10 PM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 13:05:41-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bill just introduced to the Ohio House would protect the pro-police flag from being prohibited by landlords and homeowners associations.

House Bill 712 would prohibit restrictions on display of the "thin blue line flag," also known as the "Back the Blue" flag.

Currently, there are only a few flags that these groups can not prohibit, including American and state flags, prisoner of war flags and service flags.

"You drive past my house, you darn well know what side of the fence I'm on," John Tamburello said.

Tamburello, a Middleburg Heights Republican, has had negative experiences with landlords, homeowner associations and even his neighbors, with them trying to take down the flag and other Trump related flags, he said.

"A lot of good men and women have died fighting for the freedom that they are trying to take away," he added.

Republican lawmakers agree. The new bill would force all landlords and HOAs to allow the thin blue line flag.

GOP House Reps. Tim Ginter, from Salem, and Kevin Miller, from Newark, proposed the bill following a home association attempt to stop a family of a deceased police officer from displaying the flag, they said.

“Unfortunately, a home association tried to deter the father of Kirkersville Police Department’s former Chief Eric DiSario, from displaying the flag that was in support of his late son Eric,” Miller said. “With rising crime nationwide, now more than ever we need to commend the efforts and bravery of our law enforcement officers, and displaying this flag is not something groups should be prohibiting.”

Many landlords don’t allow it, because some have said anything with a political message can be considered antagonistic — so it is better to just ban all types of signage.

"I don't want a sign on the front of a lawn saying “blank you, neighbor,” Richard Bias, a Cleveland landlord, said.

There are rules for a reason, Bias said. However, he does understand and would approve of his tenants flying it, he said. Every landlord is different and he can see each side, he added.

He and other landlords have said it's not fair for just one political flag to fly

"If you are trying to regulate one flag, that's potentially infringing on freedom of speech," Bias said.

Tamburello agreed, saying that he should be able to fly all of his flags.

"If you own your property, what you put in your yard, or on your house flying, or whatever signs you want, whether it be the American flag, the rainbow flag — you can't tell me what I can and can't put in my home," he said.

The Supreme Court has historically sided with HOAs, allowing them to limit signs — so it is unclear if this law would even be able to be applied.

"I pray this passes," Tamburello said. "Stop this dictatorship."

The bill won't be heard until later in the fall.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.