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Ill Feelings Swirl Around Flag Removal Order

October 25, 1990

HOUSTON (AP) _ Managers of an apartment complex have forced most residents to remove American flags flown in support of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, saying the flags were a safety hazard.

Two veterans groups denounced the apartment management as unpatriotic.

Most residents of the Plantation Apartments were defiant Wednesday, saying the management was being un-American. But by the end of the day, most complied, removing the small flags that have been flying since mid-September.

About 30 residents had displayed the flags, which hung from 30-inch wooden poles outside near the apartment doors. Residents were given notices Monday and Tuesday to remove the flags or maintenance workers would dispose of them.

Apartment officials said they will allow flags to be displayed on doors and windows as long as they don’t create a hazard.

″We, like the residents who are complaining, are behind our boys in the Mideast all the way,″ said Sylvia Rizk, chairman of Houston International Management Co., which manages the complex.

″Patriotism should never be abused by using it as a reason to disregard safe practices.″

The safety concern, Rizk said, was that the flags jutted into passageways even though they were hung well above eye level. The management company also complained that residents had drilled holes in exterior walls for the flags.

Joe Coyle, spokesman for Kor-Vets, the Texas Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, said the order to remove the flags was unpatriotic, whatever the reason. He said his organization would back any residents who want to fight the move.

The national president of the Brotherhood for Vietnam Veterans, who is a Houston resident, also denounced the management company’s actions.

″It causes me to wonder just where the priorities are for these folks living in this country,″ Sibley Cooley said. ″Obviously these people who wanted to fly the flags wanted to fly it because they had a deeper sense of commitment and patriotism.″

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