Flags with or without a flag pole can fly at today's Tax Day tea party after the state lifted a restriction on flag poles this morning.
The decision was made this morning by N.C. Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young, amid questions whether such a ban is legal. Young referred to the restriction, one of 16, listed in the permit that groups have to get in order to hold demonstration and events on state-owned land.
The Department of Crime Control and Public Safety and the Department of Administration are concerned that Rule 16 poses potential legal questions," Young said, according to a written statement. "As a result, State Capitol Police has suspended enforcement of the rule until a review can be completed.
The little-known restriction applied not just to flag poles, but to any posts attached to signs or banners and was out of a concern that the metal, plastic or woods posts could be used as weapons.
But there had been no prior instances of violence, and was questioned this week in advance of a Tax Day tea party demonstration being held at 5 p.m. on the State Capitol grounds.
The tea party movement, a conservative-leaning grassroots movement with anti-tax sentiments, is planning events around the county today in order to mark the deadline to get federal and state income tax returns.
Laura Long, an Apex woman who organized today's event on behalf of Triangle Conservatives Unite, said she was glad to hear the ban was lifted in time for today's rally, which is expected to attract several hundred people.
Tea party attendees had contacted her with concerns that the U.S. flag wouldn't be flow properly, or that counter-demonstrators would infiltrate the event and try to shut it down by carrying large flag poles or signs.
"Just because a group is large, it doesn't (automatically) equate with violence," Long said. "There really was no precedent for us to not carry our flags or our signs."
There's no timeline on when the review of the rule will be finished, but Ernie Seneca, a crime control spokesman, said flags and posts will be allowed at all demonstrations and events in the near future.
"We want to make sure people are able to exercise their rights," Seneca said.
Before the rule was lifted this morning, two local conservative groups -- the Wake County Republican Party and the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, had announced they would have 5,000 miniature flags to hand out at the event.
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