Apartment management clarifies senior couple’s flagpole can stay put

Posted at 4:06 PM, Oct 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-01 18:55:06-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – On Wednesday FOX 17 first reported a senior couple in Grand Rapids is fighting to keep their flagpole installed outside of their home. Thursday, their apartment management responded and clarified that the couple can fly their American flag on their flagpole permanently.

Thursday FOX 17 sat down with Jim and Delores Tipton for a second day. They said as soon as our story aired, they got an overwhelming response: an outpouring of messages nationwide on social media, as well as their phone ringing off the hook at points.

Sixteen years ago, when former management gave the Tiptons permission to install their flagpole near their front yard, Jim and Delores said they never thought that right would be taken away.

“If you believe in something then stand up for it,” said Jim Tipton. “I do believe the American flag is our flag, so let’s fly it.”

When they resigned a lease this summer with new management at the now Springbrook Flats, new rules redefined what items residents can have, and what can be placed in common areas.

Jim said there was some miscommunication. While the on-site manager told FOX 17 that she told the Tiptons they did not have to remove their flagpole, Jim said other staff including maintenance crews told him several times recently to remove it, or else they would.

Thursday, the on-site manager at Springbrook Flats clarified the message to FOX 17 and said she never told the Tiptons they had to remove their flagpole.

“What she’s told us was if it’s in the ground it can stay there,” said Jim. “If you have railings, like over here where they have these balconies, if you have a flag and you put it on the railing, it has to come down, the other ones in the ground can stay up. So currently we’re within the limits of what they’re saying.”

Wednesday’s story resonated across the country: hundreds of messages offering support on social media, and some people from out of state calling into the apartment’s office.

“Everybody was on our side,” said Jim. “They said, ‘stay with it, hang in there, we’re glad you’re taking this stand. They said, ‘we’ll help you any way that we can.”

“[They said,] ‘we got your back,’ but they’re a thousand miles away from us,” said Delores Tipton.

Jim and Delores said they are thankful, and take this as a reminder to fight for your rights.

“Stand your ground,” Jim said. “Stand up for what you think is right.”

When FOX 17 spoke with the on-site manager Thursday, she again deferred further comment to their regional manager out of Nashville, Tenn. FOX 17 left messages and has yet to hear back.