JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Antoine Mickel has lived in his Arlington neighborhood near Kernan and Atlantic for over 20 years. It’s peaceful and each house has its own unique modern style.
Some homeowners express their views through the flag that flies on their homes, so Mickel didn’t understand why he got a letter from his homeowners association more than a month ago telling him to remove his Black Lives Matter flag.
Mickel said he’s tired of feeling like an outcast in his own neighborhood and filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against his HOA.
“I can’t even sit in my home and feel comfortable,” Mickel said.
You’ll find plenty of flags in the neighborhood: Blue Lives Matter, Trump, LGBTQ, college teams and seasonal.
Mickel asked why he can’t fly his flag, too.
Civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump, along with co-counsels Matthew Dietz and David Cronin, filed suit on behalf of Mickel against River Point Community Association, River City Management Services, the community’s president and its property manager.
Crump says it is evident that Mickel was harassed and discriminated against for supporting Black Lives Matter.
“The first day that he put up his Black Lives Matter flag, he was met with retaliation from the homeowners association,” Crump said. “If he did not take down the flag, they threatened him with fines and eviction.”
The HOA responded to News4Jax saying, in part: “It was the fact that a non-specific time period flag was flying off of his house, not on a flagpole. A letter would have been sent had he flown a Blue Lives Matter flag off of his house. At this time, the Association does not intend to take any further action and considers the matter closed.”
Mickel and his legal team are moving forward with the federal lawsuit, saying his freedom of speech is being violated. The National Fair Housing Alliance chairperson is also supporting Mickel’s complaint.
According to Mickel’s attorney HOAs have a lot of power and can make up their own rules, but federal law will take precedent over HOA regulations.