After insisting that a CEO’s American flag was an eyesore in their city, a council voted to force the businessman to remove the display immediately. What they never expected was that he would have a big surprise in store for them when they arrived at work the next day.
When Camping World Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis puts his mind to something, you can expect him to achieve his desired results. As an orphaned Lebanese who was adopted by a couple in Florida, he knows the hard work and perseverance it takes to live out the American dream.
Grateful for the freedoms and opportunities the United States has afforded him, Lemonis is giving back to his country in numerous ways, including starring in the CNBC show The Profit, which assists small businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. However, when he decided to erect an American flag on company property in order to show his patriotism, he was soon introduced to governmental overreach.
According to FOX 46, the city of Statesville, North Carolina, voted to force Lemonis to remove the 40 feet by 80 feet American flag, which waves on a 130-foot-high pole at his RV store, citing a size violation of a city ordinance, which only allows for flags up to 25 feet by 40 feet in size. However, instead of taking down Old Glory, Lemonis had a better idea.
Despite a lawsuit and fines totaling over $10,000, Lemonis surprised the city by once again raising the massive America flag high above the skyline. Although the city has tried everything to force him to take down the patriotic display, Lemonis has promised them that the flag isn’t going anywhere, vowing to fight the “unconstitutional” ban.
“Bottom line is the flag’s not coming down,” he told employees. “Give me a reason why this compromises the health, wellness or safety.”
Lemonis has proven his seriousness on the issue, securing attorneys to fight the city’s lawsuit and change the ordinance on flag sizes. According to their claim, the U.S. and state constitutions clearly prohibit authorities “from placing arbitrary or unreasonable restrictions on city’s abilities to fly the flag.” Because his flag isn’t a safety hazard, Lemonis and his legal team are citing his right to fly an American flag of any size on his property.
The filing says the flag “represents the fundamental values — freedom, courage and equality before the law — that unite all Americans and transcend party politics. … In keeping with this tradition, The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that the act of flying the flag is a form a political expression protected by the First Amendment.”
According to the Washington Examiner, the city is calling for a fine of $50 per day, which would also apply retroactively. This could mean that Lemonis would be responsible for paying the city over $10,000, since the flag was first erected months ago. Still, he’s not budging and has even proposed a change to the ordinance.
“It really just comes down to, in my opinion, bureaucrats trying to control the size of something,” Lemonis said in a previous phone interview with FOX 46.
Proving his dedication and unshakeable position, Lemonis posted a video on Twitter of the massive flag flying over the RV lot. The clip was simply captioned “Nothing more to say…” implying that no one can force him to remove the banner.
“The flag isn’t coming down. It’s the only thing I know for certain,” Lemonis said. “I know I’m going to die. I know I’m going to pay taxes. And I know I’m not taking the flag down.”
Lemonis has remained steadfast on the issue. He explained that it isn’t about the flag, per se, but about his rights as an American citizen. He also took to social media to further specify his reasons for defying the city at every turn.
“This is about more than just the flag. This is about our Veterans, Military, and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country,” Gander Outdoors posted on Facebook this month. “They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will NOT take it down!”
So far, the mayor has yet to attempt to collect the fines imposed upon Lemonis. However, the city is defending its decision to make him remove the flag, arguing that he should do so simply because it’s the rule.
“We take our laws and ordinances very seriously,” the city responded. “Our doors are open to any business looking to prosper and grow in our community. We only ask that the proper channels are followed. That is the first and necessary step to any potential change in code.”
Many are standing behind Lemonis and his quest to exercise his right to fly as large an American flag as he sees fit. As he awaits the court’s decision, he promises that, regardless of the ruling, he still won’t take down our national symbol.