The United Nations flag came down outside the Hennepin County Government Center last week after commissioners unanimously voted to fly only the U.S., Minnesota and county flags over the red-brick plaza facing Minneapolis City Hall.
"We could've continued to fly it, but it would've had to be smaller and lower than the U.S. flag. ... It was clear that we were going to look silly in trying to comply" with all the protocols, said County Board Chair Mike Opat, who sponsored the resolution.
The board took action after conservative talk radio show hosts Bob Davis and Tom Emmer, the former legislator and Republican gubernatorial candidate, raised the issue. Some critics feel that displaying the U.N. flag at government buildings suggests an equivalence with the U.S. flag.
The U.N. banner first went up in the plaza in 1986, when the County Board voted 4 to 2 to fly it alongside the U.S. and state flags. The resolution was sponsored by former Commissioner John Derus. Commissioner Randy Johnson, the only current board member who was on the board then, abstained from voting.
In a blog posting, Commissioner Jeff Johnson wrote that he intended to bring the issue to the board before the radio show raised it. "We owe no allegiance to the United Nations and its flag does not belong on the plaza and certainly not flying next to Old Glory," he wrote.