HAZLETON -- Even though a big percentage of residents in Hazleton are of Hispanic heritage, the mayor is refusing to fly the Dominican flag in front of city hall to celebrate the Dominican Republic's independence.
The Dominican House in Hazleton's downtown has many purposes, including teaching English and preparing immigrants to become American citizens. The folks there are proud of their heritage and wanted to display their nation’s flag at Hazleton City Hall. It would be for one day to mark the Dominican Republic's independence.
“We just request for the 28th of February, in celebration of the 1844 celebration of the Dominican Republic, for that day, raise the flag in city hall, that’s all,” said Victor Perez.
Mayor Joe Yannuzzi denied the request, saying a state law prohibits another country's flag from flying from any public building.
“We quoted the law and sent them a copy and told them what it was and they are looking for an issue right now,” said Mayor Yannuzzi.
Dominican native Olga Lantigua has been an American citizen for 40 years. She agrees with the mayor.
“This is America and we have to respect rules and we have to follow rules.”
Other nation's flags often fly outside the Lackawanna County and Luzerne County Courthouses for special occasions. We contacted both counties. Lackawanna county officials say they believe it's not a violation of the flag law because the other countries' flags fly in a special area in front of the courthouse. There is no word from Luzerne County representatives as to how they interpret the law.