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Hazleton mayor: Dominican flag cannot fly at city hall

By Rosa Duarte, Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 25 2014 09:06:15 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 26 2014 02:43:35 PM CST

Hazleton's mayor is under fire for denying a group of Dominicans the right to fly the Dominican flag in front of city hall.

HAZLETON, Pa. -

Hazleton's mayor is under fire for denying a group of Dominicans the right to fly the Dominican flag in front of city hall.

And the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is getting involved.

Members of the Dominican house or 'La Casa Dominicana,' wished to raise the flag this Thursday to celebrate the country's independence day.

In a letter to the group, Mayor Joe Yannuzzi denied the group's request, citing state law: “No other flag other than the Stars and Stripes, which is our national emblem, shall be allowed to wave from any public building in this commonwealth, except such as may be occupied by a duly accredited minister or consul of a foreign civil power to these United States.”

However, Victor Perez, president of 'La Casa Dominicana' says the law is not only antiquated but not observed in other cities throughout the state.

“From 1994, the City of Allentown raises the flag of the Dominican Republic and it raises the flag of Puerto Rico and it's raising the flag of Colombians and other countries. The same happens in Philadelphia,” he said.

There's also the fact that Yannuzzi did permit the Irish flag to be raised on St. Patrick's Day a couple of years ago at city hall, something he says was a mistake.

“It was a one-day event and it shouldn't have happened but it did,” Yannuzzi said.

Mayor Yannuzzi suggests the group celebrates the day as many other groups do.

“They display their flags, but by their residences, their businesses, anywhere in town they can have parades. They can do what they want to do. Why does it have to [be displayed] on city property in the city of Hazleton?” he asked.

Perez says they respect the mayor's decision but adds the fight is not over.

“We have to work and fight for the civil rights and for the respect for our Hispanic community,” he said.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission announced Wednesday that it will be filing a formal complaint against Hazleton, because the city flew an Irish flag for St. Patrick's Day.

Some cities traditionally fly other flags in addition to the American flag on special occasions, but none are to fly higher than Old Glory.