Support comes in droves for Illinois restaurant owner who refuses to pay fines over flying American flags

A restauranteur in Illinois who has a patriotic streak has amassed fines of at least $200 because he’s flying an American flag outside of the business, a report said this week.

Terry Trobiani, owner of Gianelli’s which specializes in hot dogs and beef dishes along a stretch of Highway 176 in Prairie Grove, said he was given tickets for “improper display” after a town official stopped by his establishment recently, FOX 32 in Chicago reported.

“The next day the village administrator comes in and he gives me a pamphlet of the sign ordinance pertaining to flags,” said Trobiani. “He says you might want to read this.”

However, Trobiani has yet to pay the fines, according to FOX 32. Rather, he has taken both tickets he has been issued and taped them to the entrance of his eatery.

“The American flag is a symbol of patriotism. It’s not a sign. They’re equating it with open/closed. Dine in, sign out,” Trobiani explained to the local outlet.


(Video: Fox32)

The village president of Prairie Grove, Doug Underwood, told FOX 32 that the situation isn’t about patriotism. Rather, he said that Trobiani’s flags are too close to the highway and town officials are fearful they could be blown off their mounts and into oncoming traffic.

“I love the United States flag. I’m a patriot myself,” Underwood said. “I think it’s disgraceful. Because he’s using the American flag as a tool to further his business interests.”

FOX 32 reports that the battle over the flag has since gone viral on social media. Trobiani told the outlet that he’s getting hundreds of messages of support from around the country. And crowds of supporters have shown up at his restaurant, which is located some 50-odd miles northwest of Chicago, near the Wisconsin state line, many of them waving American flags.

“We had 50 people out here Saturday with trucks, horns, speakers, signs, support small business, support the American flag,” Trobiani told the outlet.

He also said that he’s hired an attorney and that he plans to take his battle with the village to Municipal Court next month. He adds that he’s willing to pay to fight the fines even if it costs more than it would to just pay them.

Trobiani’s flag fight with his community comes as Americans wage war over Old Glory and allegiance to their own country.

For instance, Olympic hammer-thrower Gwen Berry turned her back on the flag during the playing of the national anthem after she qualified for Team USA with a third-place finish during a competition earlier this month in Eugene, Ore.

She was praised by many on the left including the Biden administration, but others — including former Olympic Gold Medalist Caitlyn Jenner (who competed in the 1976 Olympics as Bruce Jenner) — took Berry to task over her protest.

“Honestly, it’s disgusting. I love this country. I love this state. I was the first person ever to put the American flag up at the finish line in 1976, and I’m very proud of that because I’m proud of my country,” Jenner said during an interview with Newsmax TV.

Jon Dougherty

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