The Trump flag at the plantation in Hilton Head, South Carolina, upsets its neighbors


A group of neighbors at the Hilton Head plantation on the north end of the island are screaming scandal over a flag fluttering in their community, citing neighborhood rules that ban signs.

But the owner, who hung a Trump 2020 flag at his home several weeks ago, says rooting for the president is like rooting for sports teams like the Clemson Tigers or the Green Bay Packers, and he should be allowed to fly his flag in support of his candidate.

The question brings to the fore the strict rules imposed, but not often enumerated, in private communities and sheds light on the political climate of a divided country as Election Day approaches.

“Regardless of political affiliation, a political banner should certainly not be allowed to be displayed in our community. There are enough divisions in our country, we don’t need to expose it to (Hilton Head Plantation), ”cyclist Jean Lerner wrote to the community’s general manager after encountering the flag on a ride. .

General Manager Peter Kristian responded that “people fly flags that included the American flag, varsity team, professional sports team, college, vacations, etc. prohibit signaling but not other political messages. Flag poles must be approved by the architectural review committee, and flags are limited to a specific size.

Joined Thursday, Kristian said he and community lawyers had no authority to ban some flags but not others.

The community can “either ban all flags except the American flag or allow all flags.” If you start to figure out which ones are appropriate, you are going down a very slippery slope.

A house in Hilton Head Plantation flaunts a flag supporting President Donald Trump. Neighbors say owners should not be allowed to fly the flag in the gated community. Jean Lerner Submitted to The Island Packet

While some island communities have explicitly banned political messages, Hilton Head Plantation’s pledges do not address the issue. However, signs such as real estate signs, political signs or other advertisements are prohibited.

In the few months leading up to Election Day, disagreements over Trump flags may show political differences, but debates also show a shift from adhering to unwritten rules that often accompany property in private communities to the use of its property to express their opinions.

A West Virginia family staying at Sea Pines in mid-July were asked to remove their Trump flags after Sea Pines security told them there had been a complaint from a beach enthusiast. Sea Pines declined to comment on the matter, but banned flags with “disparaging” messages.

One of the family flags included the phrase “No more bull —-“.

A house on Hilton Head Island where Sea Pines security asked a West Virginia family to remove the Trump flags hanging in front of the beach. Submitted to The Island Packet

In recent weeks, Trump flags have been seen flying over rental homes in North Forest Beach.

On July 5, a Trump boat parade on Murray Lake drew thousands to the Columbia area reservoir to support the president’s reelection bid.

“I am a Trump fan. I will put my flag ‘

Richard Thomas, owner of the Hilton Head plantation home and happily displaying his Trump flag, said he was not trying to campaign for the First Amendment or push his candidate in the face of others.

“I’m not a staunch or strident supporter of Trump at any cost, but I prefer him to anything I’ve seen on the other side,” Thomas said Thursday. “I compare (the flag) to the Green Bay Packers flag across the street. Team fans raise flags, and I’m a fan of Team Trump. “

Thomas said he didn’t know he was being debated online, but a decades-old friend recently refused to enter his home because of the flag.

He reported that someone had chalked “IMPEACH” on the sidewalk outside his house. He took a broom and water to erase some of the letters so that it was written “PEACH”.

“I consider it my prerogative of free speech, but I don’t think so,” he said. “I am a Trump fan. I’ll hoist my flag.

But others believe such flags have no place in the idyllic and often exclusive setting of a gated community in Hilton Head.

“None of us want to put political flags on our homes,” said Joanne Burns, a resident. “We like the fact that they are not allowed. … I would say the same if it was a Biden flag or someone else. “

And some say the Hilton Head Plantation pacts, which spell out where your home is and ban personal vegetable gardens, should go further so people can’t find loopholes.

“They can tell you you have to electrically wash your roof, but we don’t have anything that says ‘you can’t have a political sign’,” Lerner said.

This story was originally published July 23, 2020 3:13 pm.

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Katherine Kokal graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Island Packet newsroom in 2018. Prior to moving to the Lowcountry, she worked as an interviewer and translator for a non-profit organization. lucrative in Barcelona and at two NPR member stations. At The Island Packet, Katherine covers government, environment, development, beaches and the all-important Loggerhead Turtle on Hilton Head Island. She has won awards from the South Carolina Press Association for her in-depth reporting, government reporting, business reporting, growth and development reporting, food writing, and for her use of social media.

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