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Crowd Protests After Prairie Grove Restaurant Is Fined For Flying American Flags Out Front; Village Says It's About Where Flags Were Mounted

PRAIRIE GROVE, Ill. (CBS) -- A restaurant in McHenry County faces fines for flying several American flags over its business around the Fourth of July.

The reason is that the Village of Prairie Grove says the way the flags were being displayed violates numerous ordinances.

As CBS 2's Meredith Barack reported Thursday, the manager at Gianelli's has now mounted the flags on poles fastened to the building, which is allowed. But not long ago, they were mounted in front of the business on the right-of-way of Route 176 – where the village says they are not allowed.

On Thursday afternoon as the kitchen at Gianelli's wound down from the lunch rush, a large crowd gathered alongside Route 176.

"I mean, there's so many other things going on in our world and our country right now - and we're going to be so petty to fine a family-owned business putting our beautiful flag out?" said Bonnie Bertucci Kassel.

They were out to support Terry Trobiani, the manager of Gianelli's.

"I had a straight line of flags running down the road here - about three flags that were up - and they were up for the 4th of July," Trobiani asid.

Trobiani said he was fined $200 by the Village of Prairie Grove for flying the 3-foot by 5-foot flags on the side of the street.

The tickets say the flags must be displayed on a permanent flagpole or staff, and that they must be set back a minimum of 15 feet from the property line.

The village said over the course of a month, several members of its staff explained to Trobiani that the flags were in violation of the village's sign ordinance that regulates the use of A-frames, feather flags, banners, and the like.

The village also said it is a violation of state and local municipal code to place anything on the right-of-way of a state highway.

The village also sent CBS 2 pictures that said Trobiani is responsible for these tattered and worn flags that were duct taped to street signs and left lying in the grass.

He was not cited for those violations.

Village of Prairie Grove President David Underwood told CBS 2, "This is not the way to treat the symbol of our freedom."

"When I ask: 'Why can't I fly these flags? Why the temporary ban on all these signage?' the answer I get? 'We don't like the way it looks. It brings down the value of the community. It's obstructive, it's obtrusive,'" Trobiani said.

Trobiani says he believes those are just excuses, and his supporters said they will be outside the restaurant with their flags until Trobiani can put his back up.

"I'm not going to settle until I get my damn flags put back in the grass," Trobiani said.

Trobiani said says he was willing to pay to the $200, but will now have to face the village in court.

The village sent us this three-page news release on the matter, saying the claim that Gianelli's was cited for flying flags is a "false and gross misrepresentation" and that the issue was only about where the flags were placed:

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