The CEO of Camping World said this week that he would rather go to jail than reduce the size of his American flag hanging outside his business – and the city is suing him for it.
The government of Statesville, North Carolina has threatened Marcus Lemonis with jail time and a fine of $50 per day for his 40-by-80-foot flag that violates the city’s flag size ordinance, Fox News reported Tuesday.
“When veterans show up at the stores for the flag raisings, and when they come on Saturdays and do their veteran rides, and they weep at the bottom of the flagpole, that’s the conviction that I need to say it’s just not going to come down. I would rather go to jail,” Lemonis said Monday on Matha MacCallum’s “The Story.”
Watch the full interview below:
“The Flag is NOT coming down…no matter what. This is about more than just the Flag. This is about our Veterans, Military, and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country. They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will NOT take it down!” said an official statement from Camping World in an email to American Military News.
Lemonis admitted that his flag violates the city ordinance, but he believes the ordinance to be wrong.
“The ordinance doesn’t matter to me,” Lemonis told McCallum, adding, “There’s no question that I violated that ordinance,”
“If you look at the North Carolina statute, it says as long as it’s not impairing someone’s health and well-being it’s not a big deal.”
The city claims the flag’s size and proximity to the interstate make it a hazard. They’re so insistent on having the flag removed that they’ve sought legal action against Lemonis.
“The city of Statesville filed a lawsuit about two months ago,” Lemonis said.
“If I don’t take it down I will be in violation of the court order. Ultimately, their reaction is from the city that I will go to jail.”
The city said they would grant a permit for Lemonis to fly a smaller flag, but Lemonis said the entire incident was about bureaucratic control, Fox News reported in May.
When the lawsuit was filed in May, Lemonis took to Facebook to rally up supporters to sign a petition.
“The City of Statesville, North Carolina has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to require Gander RV in Statesville, NC to take down their American Flag. They are imposing a $50/day fine retroactive to 10/15/18,” Lemonis said in the post.
“Many cities like Statesville have requested that Camping World and Gander Outdoors take down their American Flags. WE WON’T DO IT! Stand with us,” he wrote. “This is about more than just the flag. This is about our Veterans, Military, and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country. They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will NOT take it down! Sign the petition.”
Lemonis shared the petition again on Tuesday. So far it has amassed more than 317,000 signatures.