A Georgia man was slapped with a ticket and threatened with jail time after he refused to remove an American flag that’s been flying outside his business for more than thirty years.
An Albany code enforcement officer alleged that Tom Gieryic’s flag was in violation of the city’s sign ordinance. The standard size American flag was posted on a pole outside Gieryic’s automotive repair shop.
“It’s been there for 30 years,” Gieryic told Fox News. “She told me my flag was in the city’s right of way.”
Gieryic said his troubles started last week when a group of retired Marines showed up and offered to put up a new flag. When he returned from lunch, Gieryic was met by a code enforcement officer telling him to either remove the American flag or face fines.
The Albany city manager did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
“I was shocked, man – a complete loss for words,” he recounted. “I told her I wasn’t going to be moving my flag.”
He said he was told that if he didn’t comply, he could face a $1,000-a-day fine and up to 60 days in jail. But the auto shop owner decided to stand his ground.
“She stomped off to her car, got her ticket book and demanded my license,” he said. “She wrote me a ticket for flying my American flag on the city’s right of way.”
After Gieryic raised a ruckus with city officials, his ticket was later reduced to a warning. But he was told the flag still had to be moved – by exactly one foot.
“I’m boiling on the inside,” he said. “They didn’t demand that I move it. They suggested I do it as a gesture of good will.”
Gieyric said he’s received all sorts of support for standing his ground – from folks dropping by to shake his hand to others who’ve offered to help pay any possible fines.
“I got 15 business cards from lawyers offering their services,” he said.
Gieryic said he wants the law changed.
“My local city manager has been more than fair,” he said. “He stands behind me, but the law is the law and his hands are tied.”
He blamed the entire incident on “government getting involved in areas they don’t need to be involved.”
“The point is – I’m an American,” he said. “That’s the American flag. That’s American soil. It belongs to me and I’m going to fly it. I’m going to fly it where I want to fly it as long as it’s not a safety hazard – and it’s not.”