Nazi flag flew outside Fruita house on Election Day; police say its use is protected by First Amendment

Courtesy of Rob Norris

A Nazi flag flies outside a home on Tuesday in Fruita.

A Nazi flag featuring a swastika flew outside a Fruita home for hours on Election Day, but police said they could not do anything about the flag because its use is protected by the First Amendment.

“Earlier this week the Fruita Police Department was made aware of a residence displaying a flag with markings commonly associated with Nazi symbolism,” Fruita Police Chief Dave Krouse said in an emailed statement. “Such a display appears to fall under the umbrella of Constitutionally-protected speech, and the police department is not investigating it as a criminal matter.”

A man who lived next door to the home reported the flag in the 200 block of North Mesa Street to police about 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Fruita Police Department incident report. The home is one block from Shelledy Elementary School.

Rob Norris was traveling down North Mesa Street on Tuesday afternoon after picking his daughter up at school when he saw the red and white flag emblazoned with a swastika.

“I literally stopped dead in the street,” he said Thursday.

He stopped his wife, who is Jewish, and told her to look at it.

“She just about lost it,” he said.

He reported the flag to the police department and later talked with his three children about what the flag means. While two of his kids are too young to understand the context, his daughter was old enough to grasp the significance, he said. They had just discussed the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in which a gunman killed 11 people.

“It’s definitely a ‘Welcome to the world, kid,’” he said.

The man who owned the home told Fruita television news stations that it was his right to fly the flag and that he would not take it down.

The flag was taken down Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, Norris said.

The hate incident comes during an increase in white supremacist activity across the state. The Anti-Defamation League has documented at least 17 times when swastiaks were scrawled on Colorado property since 2016.

The organization has also documented 50 times where white supremacists have posted propaganda in the Front Range as of September 2018. In 2017, the group counted 22 and in 2016 they counted three.

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