Skip to main content

'I'm disgusted': Nazi flag spotted in Twin Cities yard – but it's not illegal

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Ben Holsen was out in the backyard of his Lauderdale home Wednesday night, hanging out with his dog, when a neighbor called him over and asked him to look at a flag another yard down.

"The wind wasn't blowing," Holsen explained, "so it just looked like a red flag, and I'd never seen a flag in this guy's yard before. My neighbor told me, 'It's a Swastika.'"

Holsen, not quite believing what he was seeing, then went around to the yard and confirmed: Yep, it was a Nazi flag.

He posted a photo of it to Facebook Thursday, writing:

"So... My neighbor began flying his Nazi flag this week. The city hall administration isn't willing to do anything. My Jewish neighbors are afraid. I'm disgusted. Any ideas how to make this stop?"

Based on the photo, it appears to be the German War Ensign flag of the Third Reich, which the Historical Flags of our Ancestors site says was used by Nazi military forces from 1935-1945, the end of WWII.

Here's the thing: It's not illegal

The sight of a Nazi flag might horrify people – but it's not illegal in the U.S. like in some other countries.

And in fact, if it was made illegal, that would violate the First Amendment right to free speech, the Washington Post says. That goes for communist flags, or the flag of the Islamic State militant group as well.

"I mean it’s protected, there isn’t really anything that we can do," Lauderdale City Administrator Heather Butkowski told BringMeTheNews.

Holsen said the flag's been flying there since earlier this week, and he reached out to make City Hall aware of it, but was told the same thing – they can't do anything about it, it's protected under the First Amendment.

"And I said, well then it's going to be my First Amendment right to make sure everybody knows he's flying this flag," Holsen said, adding if nothing happens he may reach out to groups like the ACLU or Jewish Federation.

'It made me feel sad for my neighbor'

Of course, that doesn't mean it doesn't offend or upset people.

YouGov did a poll last summer that found 57 percent of Americans think the Nazi flag should be banned, while 29 percent said it should not be banned.

"It made me feel sad for my neighbor, and disgusted that somebody would do that to somebody else, for everything that flag represents," Holsen said.

Butkowski said the city's gotten a couple calls from neighbors about it, but at this point, the only thing that can be done is to go talk to the neighbor.

"I would encourage neighbors to talk to each other about any issues that they would have," she said.

But unless some criminal activity occurs, there's no legal option the city can look at, saying: "Just the presence of it doesn't violate anything."

Next Up

Ambulance hospital emergency

17-year-old killed in northern Minnesota crash Saturday

The other drive involved in the crash, a 75-year-old man, sustained life-threatening injuries.

ATV

Alcohol a factor as driver rolls ATV into corn field, injuring 3

The crash occurred in Lake Lillian Saturday night.

Minneapolis police

Man dies after being found shot at Minneapolis' 38th and Chicago

Responders were called to the scene early Sunday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-08-07 at 6.34.12 AM

7 children arrested after 'disturbance' at Cabela's, escape in stolen vehicle

Employees called police saying the children were stealing goods from the store.

Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 6.16.49 PM

Fire sparks evacuation from apartment building, man arrested for arson

Police and fire crews responded to the fire just before 9 a.m. Saturday.

Flickr - utility pole power line

Morning storms cause power outages, ensuing problems in Eagan

There have been reports of disabled traffic lights and issues at local businesses.

kim crockett facebook sos

GOP nominee questions if those with disabilities, non-English speakers should be able to vote

Crockett made the comments in a 2020 radio interview following a ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Pharmacy

Jury: MN pharmacist did not violate woman's rights by refusing her morning-after pill

Gender Justice, the advocacy group that brought about the lawsuit, says it will appeal the decision.

Screen Shot 2021-10-04 at 3.03.13 PM

Revival to close its original Minneapolis restaurant

Don't worry – it's bringing the chicken to its nearby BBQ joint.

image

Fatal crash under investigation on Hwy 62 in Mendota Heights

The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the crash near Dodd Road.

Related