An Illinois restaurant manager has stated that he is being fined for flying an American flag in front of his business, but Prairie Grove claims that the manager’s accusation is a “misrepresentation of the facts.” The village of Prairie Grove maintained that it’s the location of the flag that’s the problem.
The dispute apparently led to the July 17 protests organized by McHenry County Republican Party Secretary Karen Tirio.
"To me, (the flag is) honoring your veterans and all the people who fought for the very right to fly our flag," Tirio stated.
Terry Trobiani, the manager of Gianelli’s Drive-Thru at 3111 Route 176 in Prairie Grove, said that he was just looking to celebrate the Fourth of July when he put two American flags on wooden poles in front of the restaurant.
On July 16, the business got two citations from the Prairie Grove Police Department, each carrying a $100 fine. According to the first citation, Trobiani’s restaurant was improperly displaying the flags in violation of the village’s ordinance, adding that the flags should only be displayed on permanent flagpoles or staffs. The second citation maintains that the flagpoles need to be set back a minimum of 15 feet from the property line.
The next day, Trobiani and his supporters congregated in front of the restaurant to protest the village’s decision. One sign held by a protester reportedly read: “This business fined $200 for flying U.S. flag,” while another sign stated: “Bill of rights $200 fine for flying the red, white and blue.”
Trobiani stated: "The American flag is a symbol of patriotism. It’s not a sign. They’re equating it with open/closed. Dine in, sign out."
The Village of Prairie Grove released a press release following the protest, which stated that Trobiani was a long-time vocal critic of the village ordinances that regulates business signage, high-visibility temporary signs like A-frames, feather flags, and banners.
The statement read: “The Village of Prairie Grove is a predominantly residential community with high aesthetic standards, including reasonable regulations of temporary signage. Manager Trobiani has made his thoughts on the Village’s sign ordinance known in multiple Letters to the Editor, containing misrepresentations of the Village’s actions and personal insults toward Village Board members.”
The statement added: “Trobiani’s actions appear to have been an effort to set the village up for public scrutiny for an issue it did not create. Again, it is simply a violation of State and local Municipal Code to place anything on the right-of-way of a state highway.”
The statement stated that when village officials tried to explain the ordinance to Trobiani, he became irate, refused to cooperate, and allegedly yelled obscenities and threatened lawsuits.
The statement continued: “The American flag is a symbol of our freedom, democracy, and the liberties we hold dear. For that reason, the village upholds its high standards and requires all US flags to be flown from permanent flag poles or staffs.”
The Village also claimed that Trobiani was using the American flag “disrespectfully, as a weapon to fight the village on his issue with the village’s ordinance regulating temporary signs.”