LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Two homeowners are still waiting to learn the fate of their Black Lives Matter flag. In December, Kara and Ben Willkoff received a letter from the HOA saying their flag was not approved.
“I looked in the bylaws to figure out if we were breaking a rule. There are things about flagpoles and there are things about signage. There isn’t anything about an actual flag,” said Kara.
The Willkoffs went through the formal approval process for their flag and they were denied. The HOA did not provide a reason why.
According to the HOA, all signs are not allowed under our current covenant. The HOA says it’s their understanding that flags are considered signs. However, there are several flags displayed throughout the neighborhood.
“It’s arbitrary. And I think that’s the big difference. You can’t pick and choose what you’re going to enforce,” said Kara.
The Wilkoffs spoke with the ACLU about their suppression of expression.
“Our Constitution guarantees everyone the right to speak and to publish freely. So let’s protect that right, even in metro districts and homeowners associations,” said Mark Silverstein of the ACLU.
The ACLU has been seeking Coloradans’ stories about incidents where HOAs restricted expression on their own property. According to their website:
“The ACLU of Colorado believes that the right of free speech includes your right, at your own home, to post a sign or fly a flag that expresses your views. We are investigating complaints that HOAs have objected when residents have displayed pride flags or Black Lives Matter yard signs. … If you believe your HOA or Metro District is infringing on your right of free expression, please contact the ACLU of Colorado at HOAfreespeech@aclu-co.org.”
The Willkoffs’ HOA says all homeowners with signs or flags have been notified of the sign restrictions. They will not be enforcing the sign policy until there is a vote in the community later this month. The Willkoffs will continue to display their flag.
In a statement to CBS4, the HOA Board says:
“Currently we are working with the Wilkoffs to come to a resolution. As a board, we do not take issue with the message on the Wilkoffs’ flag. We recognize we need to meet as a community to discuss updating our covenant. We will bring it up for discussion and vote with the entire neighborhood at the earliest opportunity. We understand Black Lives Matter is an important issue in our society. It is unfortunate our neighborhood has been put in a spotlight under these circumstances, but we are grateful for the dialogue it has started with our neighbors. We are confident this will make us a better and more inclusive neighborhood going forward.”