Flag ban lifted at Oaks Apartments after outcry

Flag ban lifted at Oaks Apartments after outcry »Play Video
Oak Apartments in Albany, Ore.

KVAL is a news partner with KATU.com

ALBANY, Ore. -- Flags are OK again at an Albany apartment complex after the property manager reviewed the policy and decided she didn't have the legal standing to ban flags from the exteriors of apartments and vehicles parked at the complex.

"If people want to fly any flag of any nationality, it's their right," said Barb Holcomb with Oaks Apartments.

KVAL News also contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to ask whether the policy banning flags from the apartment complex violated any laws. The answer from the ACLU: No.

But Holcomb said she received different legal counsel that led her to believe she is wrong to ban the flags.

"When a tenant rents the unit, the inside of the unit belongs to the tenant," Holcomb said Wednesday. "All automobiles and things attached to the automobiles are the personal property of the tenant."

Holcomb said the flag ban was based on interpretation of two sections of the rental agreement all tenants sign.

"What we were trying to do was to keep the peace," she said, declining to say whether a specific incident sparked enforcement of the ban. "Obviously, we were wrong. If the peace needs to be kept, it belongs to the police department."

She said her boss has stood by her -- both when she enforced the policy and when she lifted it.

"I made a policy. I was wrong," she said. "My boss is a wonderful man. He backed me 100 percent -- even when I was wrong."

The story garnered national attention because of the ban on American flags, although the policy did not specifically single out the U.S. flag and allow the flags of other nations.

The result for Holcomb: Numerous phone calls from the media.

"If they want to speak to me, they speak to me," she said of the calls. "If they want to yell at me, they yell at me."

KVAL News asked whether she had talked to the resident who originally went to the media with the story. Holcomb said no, although she said she would talk to him -- and would have talked to him before he went to the media. Holcomb said he did not approach her before talking to KVAL News partner KATU.

"He's just a romping, stomping patriot," Holcomb said.