Society

Arkansas Car Dealership Faces Fines After Refusing To Take Down American Flag Banners

| by Nathaly Pesantez

The owner of a car dealership in Hot Springs, Arkansas, might face fines for displaying what look like American flags throughout his business.

Jim Bullard violated a “temporary sign” ordinance that allows businesses to put up signs on the weekend days (Friday through Sunday) after purchasing a permit, according to the City of Hot Springs.

In the city's statements, it notes that in order for Bullard's banners to be exempt from the "temporary sign" ordinance, they would need to be considered an American flag -- a requirement that the banners do not meet. 

Citing an Executive Order implemented during the Eisenhower administration, the city stated in a letter that the banners "do not meet the U.S. flag code definition of the U.S. flag."

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“Since the banners in question are not by definition American flags, they are temporary signs as specified in the permit application,” another statement released on Monday by the city reads.

Although the city noted in its statements that Hot Springs Code also exempted "flags, pennants or insignia of any governmental organization when not displayed in connection with a commercial promotion or as an advertising device," it claims that Bullard does not meet this requirement either, since the flags are displayed at his business.

Thus, according to the city's "temporary sign" ordinance, Bullard is only allowed to fly two of the American flag banners during the weekends. Bullard violated both of those rules.

The car dealership put up 20 signs, according to the city, and displayed them during the middle of the week.

In response, Jim Bullard says he considers the banners patriotic and refuses to remove them.

“You should be able to fly it,” Bullard said to Arkansas Matters. “There’s no wording, no advertisement and this is America.”

City Manager David Watkins says the issue concerns fair use of signage.

“The patriotism is not the issue. This is about the sign and being fair to the other car dealerships who are abiding by the rules,” said Watkins.

Unless Bullard takes the signs down, he faces a $250 per day fine.

Bullard and his business have taken to Facebook to spread the word.

“Our intentions were to show our American Spirit and honor all who have served and to never offend anyone,” reads a Facebook post by Bullard’s company, Spa Auto Sales.

Bullard’s next step will be to present the issue before city officials.

“I hope that the city and I can sit down and come to a resolution, but I want to fly them,” said Bullard to THV11.  

Sources: Arkansas Matters, THV11

Photo Source: Arkansas Matters