BLUE RAPIDS, Kan. (KSNT) – “F*** Biden and F*** you for voting for him!” These are the words on a flag the City of Blue Rapids deemed too inappropriate to be in David Sain’s front yard.
After being required to take the flag down, Sain said he disagreed with the decision the city made.
“You know, I don’t know why they are making me take it down,” Sain said. “It is my freedom of speech and my First Amendment right,” Sain said.
The call to make Sain take the flag down came from a resident of the tiny town of around 1,000 people in Marshall County.
They started a petition to get rid of the flag. When it received enough support, Blue Rapids Mayor Jerry Zayas said a community standard had been established.
“Within a day, he responded with a community petition of 21 people,” Zayas said. “Within no time, there were neighbors that said that word was obscene.”
The city ultimately cited Sain with promoting obscenity, as defined in the “Kansas Uniform Public Offense Code.” Although some people have shown they find the flag offensive, political speech is protected under the First Amendment, according to an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.
“Regulating what people say is exactly what the First Amendment is designed to prevent, and so as a general matter this is exactly the kind of thing that the First Amendment would be aimed at protecting,” said ACLU Attorney Josh Pierson.
This isn’t the first time a civil dispute has come up over a public, profane message targeting the current president. The Courier reported on an Evansdale, Iowa resident who had the exact same flag as Sain’s in their yard. The Evansdale mayor called it offensive, politics aside. However, in that case, the Evansdale Police Department took no action on it, even with multiple complaints from residents about the flag.
“It’s protected by the First Amendment and there’s not much that can be done about it,” Evansdale Police Chief Michael Dean told the Courier.
While Sain’s flag was found in violation of the KUPOC, the same flag in Iowa didn’t violate that state’s code on obscenity, according to an area attorney. But like residents in Iowa, Sain’s neighbors expressed their main concern with the flag was that children could see the language.
However, Sain said that the language on his flag was part of the lesson, even for his own kids.
“I have children… I want them to know, you know, that you have rights and you have to stand up for your rights if you want to be heard,” Sain said.
Zayas agrees that the matter belongs in the hands of the court.
“I just want justice to be served… Whatever the court decides, that is our justice system,” Zayas said.
Sain kept his earlier message for what he wanted people to take away from this debate: “Stand up for your rights, you have rights.”