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Channel 9 story sparks state law allowing thin blue line flags in Union County

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Thin blue line flags can fly high again in Waxhaw, and it’s thanks to a story first seen on Channel 9.

The change at the state level started as a fight between a retired NYPD officer and his homeowner’s association. However, the fight might not be over just yet.

When Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis first met Chris Castrogiovanni back in June, he was taking on his HOA in a fight to fly his first responder flag. That story got attention and traction in Raleigh.

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“He said ‘go hang your flag up, it passed,’” Castrogiovanni said.

Now, the thin blue line flag is back outside of his home. He got a surprise phone call from state Rep. David Willis, who wrote a bill to change the law in Union County.

“I’m a dog with a a frisbee normally so I don’t let things go,” Castrogiovanni said.

But this summer, Castrogiovanni lost his fight to overturn changes the HOA made banning most flags. The former NYPD officer responded on 9/11 and was diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer. The flag, he told Curtis, is how he honors the friends he lost that day.

“After 9/11, I attended 26 funerals, three of which were personal friends; I have tattooed on my arm,” he said in June.

His story caught the attention of Jennifer Conner, who started holding rallies of support for Castrogiovanni.

“I was tagged by multiple people in your original story,” Conner said to Curtis.

She approached Rep. Willis about the issues after Castrogiovanni lost the HOA fight.

“I said ‘David, I want you to help me write a bill,’” she said. “‘I’m angry and I’m not letting this go.’ And he said ‘Jen, it’s already written.’”

Willis said the bill, which became law on Oct. 25, protects flags of various military branches and first responders and makes it nearly impossible for HOAs to ban them. For now, it only applies to Union County.

“There are times where common sense seems to miss the mark. This is one of those cases,” Willis said. “We got involved and did what we need to do specifically for Union County. I suspect if this is something that continues or there are other instances of this happening across the state, that other folks will want to expand it into other communities as well.”

Castrogiovanni said the change means a lot to first responders.

“I was very grateful,” he said.

Others on his street have now put the flag up, too. But he said he started the fight for all his neighbors to wave any flag they choose, and that still stands.

“You have a First Amendment for a reason,” he said.

Castrongiovanni told Curtis he hopes this will eventually becomes a statewide change.

Curtis reached out to Hawthorne Management, the HOA for his neighborhood. They said they’ll provide us with a response soon.

(WATCH PREVIOUS: Union County officer fighting to keep Thin Blue Line flag outside home)

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