It’s a lawn sign on privately-owned property in Bartow, Florida — a city of about 17,000 people located 39 miles east of the Tampa Bay Area.
But the city has banned it.
You read it correctly: The city of Bartow, Florida, has banned “God Bless America.”
Anjuli Lohn reports for Fox13, Tampa Bay, Florida, Oct. 4, 2013, that about 300 of the “God Bless America” lawn signs were handed out at First Baptist Church of Bartow following a Fourth of July sermon.
Three months later, City of Bartow Code Enforcement says the signs have worn out their welcome and is ordering residents to uproot their “God Bless America” yard signs. Residents have three days to pack it up or pay a minimum fine of $25 a day.
Bartow resident Marcus Seger says: “Being a veteran, I felt like I was just kicked in the gut. I couldn’t believe it, that I couldn’t display my love for my nation by putting a sign up that says ‘God Bless America’.”
Bartow Code Enforcement says its temporary sign ordinance dates back 13 years and already allows for some exceptions. Bartow Code Enforcement Director Gregg Lamb said “They can have those signs out on holidays that are relevant. You can have a temporary sign around Christmas if it’s related to Christmas. Or the 4th of July. The sign ordinance has exceptions for that.”
But others argue that patriotism isn’t limited to one day a year. Their signs will stay put out of principle.
Bartow resident Emmett Purvis said, “I personally feel if it were on a city right-of-way, they would have a right to remove it. But this is my yard that I’m paying the taxes on. It’s my right.”
A group plans to be at next Monday night’s Bartow City Commission meeting to ask commissioners for an exception to the ordinance.