SCARSDALE, NY — When George Floyd died at the hands of police, a Westchester County couple wanted to take a stand in what’s become a national conversation on racial inequality and police violence.
Avisia and Dan Brown put up signs of unity outside the home they share with Avisia’s mother, Doreen.
The centerpiece of their display was a banner with a phrase some may recognize.
“It was the Martin Luther King quote: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” Avisia Brown told PIX11. “No neighbors came to us to complain about it, I had a few neighbors that actually came by and said that they liked it and appreciated it,”
As it turns out, not everyone was crazy about it.
The Town of Eastchester Building and Planning Department issued a notice of violation, which was left outside the family’s home on Friday.
“It stated that we had one day to comply and take down the banner because it was against some fire code,” Avisia Brown explained.
To add insult to injury, the family said the inspector who issued the violation didn’t even bother knocking on the door or placing the notice in the mailbox.
Dan Brown found it in a pile of dirt situated between the steps of the front door and the side of the house.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that this guy didn’t plan this out very well,” he said. “He was trying to be deceptive and it didn’t work.”
The violation in question, No. 7-2002 Sec C.21, prohibits signs like banners, flags and exterior displays. Not complying can result in a $1,000 fine for every day it’s up — and even arrest.
The family said they feel they’re being unfairly targeted because a number of their neighbors — including one across the street — have installed signs of their own celebrating graduates, but not one has received a notice from the town.
“It makes it really seem like it’s because of the subject matter,” Avisia Brown said.
Doreen Limato, who owns the home, said she’s never been subjected to a fine over displays, despite featuring over-the-top Halloween decorations nearly every year.
“I thought I lived in America,” Limato said. “I thought I had freedom of speech, now I find I don’t have it.”
The family reached out to the Department of Building and Planning and was directed to the town’s attorney, who has yet to get back to them.
After PIX11 made an inquiry about the violation, the town’s counsel Vincent Toomey, provided a statement on behalf of the town claiming the violation was just one of many issued to property owners as a result of complaints received by the Town.
“Banners are among the types of signs that are prohibited by the local law, irrespective of their content,” the statement reads. “The Town has notified the owners of these properties that the banners are not in compliance with the law and several have been removed.”
“Prior to issuing violations, Town officials notified the property owners that the banners may violate the law. Some of these same properties have numerous other signs, and those signs were permitted to remain as they complied with the law.”
Avisia Brown maintained that town officials never informed her or her mother about complaints.
Even though they took down the banner, the family said they have no plans to stay silent on the bigger issue at hand.
“When you see what’s going on in this country, it just becomes personal when you realize that all these people that you love and care about are living in a different America,” Dan Brown said.