A retired St. Paul police officer has been fined by his homeowners association for flying a thin blue line flag in support of police outside his home, he told Alpha News.
“I will give you one hour to take that down,” Archie Smith, a police officer of over 30 years, alleges was the message delivered to him via a phone call from the Orleans Terrace Homeowners Association.
Smith was a St. Paul police officer from 1970 to 1994 and he served as chief of police in Renville, Minn., from 1995 to 2002. He’s now 80 years old.
Smith moved into the Orleans Terrace Townhomes in Stillwater three years ago. He told Alpha News that he put out his thin blue line flag last year with no problems.
Smith explained that he flies two flags: an American flag and the thin blue line flag, but the pro-police flag is the one that’s the problem.
He again put the flag out earlier this month in honor of the several law enforcement officers who have been killed in the region over the last month. He received a verbal and then a written warning to remove it, he said.
Smith told Alpha News that he wrote a letter back to the association explaining that his flag is not political. “It represents those of us who have chosen these high-risk professions and some of those have made the ultimate sacrifice,” he wrote. “It reminds those who see it that there’s a price to be paid and in some cases, it’s paid in full.”
As of right now, he is being hit with a $50 fine for failing to remove the flag, but he has “no plans to take it down.”
“They can stick it,” Smith told Alpha News.
“It’s the principle. It’s sad. I feel bad for these youngsters on the job,” he said of people still working in law enforcement.
Smith provided Alpha News with a photo of the letter he received on May 10 stating the flag violates the HOA’s “exterior rules.”
The homeowners association did not respond to a request for comment.