We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump flag fines violated free speech, Minnesota appeals court rules

A business owner had displayed a 30- by- 50 foot flag saying “TRUMP 2020 Keep America Great” from atop a mobile construction crane on his business’s property in Buffalo, Minnesota.

FSA FNS Forum News Service Brief.jpg
We are part of The Trust Project.

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has sided with a man who faced $600 in city fines for flying a large pro-Donald Trump flag from a 150-foot crane on his property.

In a ruling issued this week, the court said the city of Buffalo had violated Jay Johnson’s free speech protections. The business owner had faced action from the city for displaying a 30-by-50-foot flag saying “TRUMP 2020 Keep America Great” from atop a mobile construction crane on his business’s property in Buffalo.

The city of Buffalo sent Johnson multiple notices that his flag display had violated city ordinances because it was too big, couldn’t be flown from equipment and required Johnson to obtain a permit. Johnson attempted to appeal the notices in 2021, arguing his flag was protected speech. The city upheld the penalties.

Johnson claimed city officials had enforced the sign ordinance in a discriminatory manner. While the city ordinance placed size restrictions on commercial displays, it did not apply to his 1,500-foot flag as it was not related to his business, he argued in court filings.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Johnson’s argument that since the city allows holiday displays larger than the size restrictions in its ordinance, the city “impermissibly creates a content-based regulation of speech.” The court found the content restriction unconstitutional and overturned the city’s decision.

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo City Administrator Loreen Bodin said the city is disappointed with the appeals court's ruling but has not yet decided whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Johnson’s attorney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Buffalo is about 30 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
What to read next
Keith Ellison in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Oct. 5, claims Fleet Farm was negligent and aided and abetted the straw purchases by ignoring “hallmark red flags and warning signs that certain buyers were straw purchasers.” Fleet Farm denies wrongdoing.
Over the past three decades, Halloween has become a starring season for the William A. Irvin. Last year's Haunted Ship returned from hiatus to hordes of fright seekers, and it's been almost completely transformed for what may be the attraction's scariest year yet.
North Dakota will lead the application process for the Heartland Hydrogen Hub that includes Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin.
Since 2019, 18 nursing homes have closed, including six so far this year.