DC apartment building bans balcony flags after political fight
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
Some residents in a D.C. apartment building near Nationals Ballpark are having a political fight with flags hung on their balconies. The situation has escalated to the point that the building's no-nonsense management is getting involved.
The 11-story Camden Capitol South apartment building sits just a mile south of the U.S. Capitol and directly across the from the ballpark along busy South Capitol Street SW.
Asked about the flags, building resident Jeff Sands laughed at how Washingtonians can turn even their apartment balconies into a political issue.
“I don't see people getting riled up about things like this, but this is D.C. so what are you going to do?” Sands said.
Right now, about a dozen flags are still hanging from different balconies. There are multiple flags for various pro sports teams, including one for the Nationals. There is also a gay pride flag, a Black Lives Matter sign, a Trump campaign flag and a Resist banner.
More recently, a new sign was hung one floor below the Trump flag. It featured an arrow pointing up and the word “Nope.”
“It was a simple message. I didn't feel like I needed to write a lot,” said Aman Dhanda, who created and hung the flag on her balcony.
Photos of the sign quickly went viral and Dhanda said she got a lot of response, including from Nats fans attending games at the ballpark across the street.
“I stepped out onto the balcony the day after I put it up and they were cheering and waving at me,” she said.
But as first reported by Washingtonian magazine, the apartment building's manager Shaun Lambert emailed residents this week, instructing them to remove all flags and other items from their balconies by the end of the month.
“While we love our residents’ creativity and unique decorating, the time has come for us to remind all residents it is a lease violation,” he wrote.
He warned that leaving these items on their balconies was a lease violation which could result in fines or even lease termination.
It's unclear exactly when a couple of flags became a dozen, but building residents said for several months the flags and signs had been hanging with no controversy until now.
“It is kind of weird to me they had flags up for years and then overnight it was, ‘Hey, you can't do this,’” said resident Warren Turner.
“I used to have an Orioles flag up here and then I was advised by someone to take it down because I lived too low to the ground and people would throw things at my apartment,” he said.
Maybe trying to trick her, Dhanda’s neighbor suddenly swapped his Trump flag with a Clinton flag, with her Nope sign still pointing up at it. That’s when Dhanda took down her Nope sign.
Since then, the Trump flag returned. But, now that the building manager will soon enforce the rule about balcony decorations, Dhanda does not plan to replace her sign.
“It was in good fun. We got a good response. I'd love to chat with him about it,” she said, acknowledging she has never met her upstairs neighbor or even knows what he looks like.
Dhanda said she wishes the building would allow residents to continue expressing themselves, as long as they’re respectful.
“We live in America. There's freedom of speech,” she said. “I'm regretful that these people who have their sports flags up need to take those down but I do understand where the building is coming from as well.”
Still, some neighbors are disappointed the political battle will soon be over.
“I was looking forward to a passive-aggressive flag war between people that disagree about all kinds of things,” said Turner. “I was really hoping it'd be like – ‘Italian sandwiches are better than peanut butter and jelly’ – and that they’d really go off the deep end.”