In May 2019, several reports and posts on social media claimed that the states of Statesville, NC, had taken legal action against a camping and outdoor dealer to prevent them from flying from the US flag outside their local store.
On May 18, Camping World sent the following message on Facebook:
City of Statesville, North Carolina has filed a lawsuit seeking an order to claim Gander RV in Statesville, NC to take down its US flag. They charge a $ 50 / day retroactivity fine for 10/15/18. Many cities like Statesville have requested that Camping World and Gander Outdoors take down their US flags. We won't do it! Stand with us.
This is about more than just the flag. This is about our veterans, military and men and women who have sacrificed for this great country. That's why we fly the flag and that's why we're not taking it down!
The post is linked to a Change.org petition and invites readers to sign up and express their support for the company's attitude to the flag. As of May 21
The petition was strengthened on Twitter by Marcus Lemonis, the controversial CEO of Camping World, who wrote : "I do not want to budge … I do not want to compromise … I do not want to flag down ":
I don't want to budge … I don't want to compromise … I'm grateful for who I am and what I have and it's clear to me why … #usa I will not take the flag down @cityofsvl or any other city pic.twitter.com/i8bTBBxxr4
– Marcus Lemonis (@marcuslemonis) May 18, 2019
In May 2019, the stateville state actually requested a court order which, if ordered, would force Camping World and affiliates to remove or replace a US flag from their place on Moreland Drive in Statesville and would impose Fines of $ 50 per day – stretching back to October 2018 – to Camping World right completed the situation.
However, the descriptions of the controversy published by Camping World on Facebook and Change.org were extremely incomplete and therefore probably very misleading because they failed to mention the following very relevant details from what is now a four-year struggle between city officials and that Illinois-based company:
- Statesville did not sue Camping World to prevent them from upset US flags, just one whose size was in violation of a local ordinance. The ban will allow the company to replace the existing flag with a smaller version, which measures up to 1000 square meters.
- The Statenville city had previously agreed to change a local ordinance to expand, by a factor of 10, the maximum dimension of a state flag allowed outside of a business in the city.
- The city of Statesville had already issued a permit to Camping World to fly a US flag of 25 to 40 feet outside their Moreland Drive
Beginning in 2014, Section 6.07 of the Stateville's Unified Development Code (UDC) City had stated that state flags (like the stars and strips) flew outside local businesses, could not be greater than 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide and flown on a flagpole no higher than 40 feet.
In June 2015, Camping World searched for a variance (like an exception) to section 6.07 to allow the company to fly a US flagship 40 feet tall and 80 feet wide (3,200 square feet) on a 130-foot flagpole . In August 2015, the Statesville Board of Adjustment denied the application for a variance.
Three years later, in June 2018, Statesville City Council voted to change section 6.07 of the UDC to allow US flags 25 feet high and 40 feet wide 1000 square feet) with flagpole no higher than 130 feet. Shortly thereafter, Camping World sought and was granted permission to create only such a US flag at the Ganders Outdoors Moreland Drive location.
However, in August 2018, the company raised a 40-to-80-foot flag on site. According to the city's civil appeal against Camping World, officials twice warned the company that the flag was in violation of the already extended restrictions set forth in Section 6.07.
On October 1, 2018, members of the City Council voted in 5-3 against a proposal to extend the restrictions to allow a US flag of 40 to 80 feet as the one flying at Gander Outdoors.
Two weeks later, according to the civil complaint, the city referred to Camping World, and recommended that the company had violated section 6.07 and had been warned about this and that the city had the right to take further legal action against the company and obtain a fine of $ 50 per day, from October 15, 2018 to the time that Camping World became compatible with section 6.07 – a fine that itself is listed in section 1.07 of the city's UDC.
During October 2018 and May 2019, Camping World was unable to remove the flag or replace it with one that came with section 6.07 and on May 7, the city instituted a civil complaint in the Iredell County District Court, seeking an order that would force the company adheres to the city ordinance because of the pain of further responsibility for contempt of court, as well as seeking the collection of $ 50 / day fines in addition to legal costs.
None of the four-year backstory was included in Camping World's commonly shared Facebook post or Change.org petition, which only stated that the Statesville city was bringing a lawsuit to force the company to take down its US flag.
The company did not mention that the city had already changed the relevant regulation to allow flags 10 times greater than before, nor that the city had given Camping World a permit for a flag that would have measured 25 by 40 feet, or that The court order, if ordered, would allow the company to replace the existing flag with a smaller one. As such, Camping Worlds Facebook post and the Change.org petition were violent and misleading in very relevant context.
Talking on the phone, said Campus CEO Marcus Lemonis to Snopes.com: "I accept the fact that our current flag size is in violation of the city's ordinance," as he claimed was "uncommon to most cities in America, including most cities in North Carolina. "
But he promised that:" We do not take the flag down under any circumstances. Zero. Nobody. Never will happen. "He added," You can do it fine $ 500 a day, $ 1000 a day, $ 5,000 a day – I just pay it. It's so important to me. "
Lemonis stressed that he and his company respected and would observe restrictions on flag and flagpole heights that were aimed at preventing the risk of motorists, passers-by or air traffic, but that no such public safety basis was given in the case of Statesville. He also states that he believed that the restrictions in place would be loosened specifically for the American flag, and that he believed that similar size limitations were reasonable for other types of flags:
"We will not turn on the size of the US flag, especially when we know that there is no danger to people or air traffic. "