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County ordinance limits size of poles, but doesn’t ban flags at protests

Updated August 26, 2020 - 6:40 pm

Could carrying a flag lead to arrest during a rally Saturday to protest the statewide mandate on wearing a face mask in public? One group claims it’s possible.

No Mask Nevada PAC, which has organized against Gov. Steve Sisolak’s face-covering rule amid the coronavirus pandemic, said on Wednesday that it was advised by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department that waving a flag that’s too large might lead to trouble.

In a statement, No Mask Nevada PAC co-founder Ian Bayne said that police were prepared to enforce an ordinance passed by the Clark County Commission to curtail appearances of the American flag and Trump flag in order to advance a political agenda.

“This is like banning tires and telling everyone they can still drive their cars,” Bayne said.

It is true the commission approved a bill in June 2018 — not this June as No Mask Nevada stated — to limit the thickness of metal or plastic poles for flags, banners and placards to 3/4-inch during protests. It was one of many restricted items, including baseball bats and aerosol spray, that officials feared could be used as weapons.

Commissioner Michael Naft, a Democrat, did not champion the ordinance as a “liberal activist,” as No Mask Nevada claimed. He joined the commission more than six months later, and the bill had been requested by Metro.

Two Las Vegas police officers asked an attendee during a No Mask Nevada rally on Aug. 22 to put away large poles attached to flags, citing the ordinance.

“And I think that pretty quickly got miscommunicated to a ban of flags, which is not accurate,” Naft said Wednesday.

A Metro spokesperson said that the department discusses which items are illegal under the ordinance with organizers before any protest.

“The LVMPD does not restrict the use of banners, signs or flags as a form of expression,” the spokesperson said.

No Mask Nevada, which wrote that police would enforce a “flag ban” on Saturday, indicated that dozens of people who are planning to attend have confirmed they intend to carry the “illegal American flags.”

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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