Hammond, IN – The mayor of Hammond has vowed to have a resident cited for flying a vulgarity-laced anti-President Joe Biden flag in view of the public.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, a Democrat, said he supports President Biden and voted for him in the 2020 election, but noted the pending citation has nothing to do with his own political views, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
“It’s very clear that you can’t have vulgar messages on flags or signs, and this is clearly a violation of city ordinance,” McDermott said.
The flag at the center of the controversy belongs to Hammond resident Roy Steffan, who said he has lived on the corner of Old Columbia Avenue and River Drive for the past 50 years, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
He has nine flags flying outside his home, including a Thin Blue Line flag, a POW-MIA flag, two that feature former President Donald Trump, another reading, “We Support Our Troops,” a flag adorned with military branch logos, and one that reads, “Come And Take It” beside a picture of an AR-15, according to the paper.
But it is Steffan’s “F—k Biden And F—k You For Voting For Him” flag that McDermott is concerned about.
“This is complaint-driven,” the mayor told The Times of Northwest Indiana. “The neighbors and the parents across the street complained to us and we have a job to do.”
McDermott said displaying obscene materials that can be easily seen by the public is prohibited by city ordinance.
“It has nothing to do with the message, it has to do with the location and the vulgarity,” he said.
Steffan argued he reviewed Indiana state law and Hammond city ordinances before he put the flags up, and he claimed he is not violating anything, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
He said people have been honking their horns as they drive by to show their support for his display, and that only two or three have told him they don’t like it.
The few who have complained usually use the same word shown on the President Biden flag when they voice their displeasure, he noted.
“This is private property and I have the right to do what I want to do on my own personal property within the law,” Steffan told The Times of Northwest Indiana. “I’m not offending nobody.”
He said his flags are “a freedom of speech issue.”
“If they cut my freedom of speech out, and make me take this down, who else are they going to go after in Hammond?” he asked.
“If they want to take me to court, and waste the taxpayers’ time and money, well, be my guest because they’re the one that’s going to pay for it, not I,” Steffan told The Times of Northwest Indiana. “I’ll go with the Constitution, and the Constitution says I have the right to do what I’m doing.”