A veteran in Florida is refusing to take down the Puerto Rican flag flying outside her home after her homeowners’ association notified her that doing so is against their rules.
Orlando-area news station WFTV 9 reported that Frances Santiago, an Army veteran who served 14 years as a medic, including two tours in Iraq, began flying her Puerto Rican flag outside her home in solidarity with Puerto Ricans protesting for the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
After more than two weeks of Puerto Ricans protesting in the streets, demanding Rosselló answer for the corruption of his former cabinet members and sexist, homophobic, and dehumanizing texts he and his cabinet sent to each other, Rosselló announced his resignation on July 25. His last day in office was August 2.
Santiago and her husband raised their Puerto Rican flag in silent support of the island. Santiago told the news station that as a veteran, she fought in the military to be able to fly the Puerto Rican flag.
But three weeks after she first raised the flag, Santiago received a notice from her homeowners association to remove the flag. In emails, she says, the association told her that only the U.S. flag, military flag, or a sports flag may be flown. The association told the news station in a statement that “only flags...regulated by the state” are flown in their community.
A quick search of Florida state laws on flags shows that homeowners are only protected with the right to fly U.S., Florida state, or military flags regardless of any HOA rules—so, no protections for “sports” flags, contrary to what Santiago said the HOA told her.
The Santiagos told WFTV 9 that they aren’t facing fines for failing to comply with the HOA request (yet), but they’ve hired an attorney anyway, and said they think it’s time that the HOA revisit its rules given the state’s growing Latinx population.
“Puerto Rico is part of America. What’s the big issue with us having our flag there?” Efrain Santiago, Frances’ husband, told the news station. “We have our house, you see, up to standards. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not doing anything to our neighbors by flying our flag.”