Lakeland business upset after being forced to remove sign supporting power crews

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Lakeland business owner is upset after he was forced to remove a sign that supported power crews.

Dan Derringer put the sign in the grass in front of his gun shop, Derringer Firearms, which read, “Thanks, Lakeland Electric.”

“During Irma, we thought it was only right that we support the people working for the power companies, who are out there risking their life on power poles, in the middle the night, in the rain, trying to get our power back on,” Derringer told News Channel 8.

He said he hoped workers would see it and know they’re appreciated, but instead, it caught the eye of City of Lakeland Code Enforcement.

“We have a Code Enforcement Officer, that’s his primary job, to go around and pick up signage. Unfortunately, there may be positive messages, however, because of the city sign ordinance, we have to treat everyone equally,” City of Lakeland Director of Communications Kevin Cook told News Channel 8.

“I said, really? You guys don’t have anything better to do? There are signs all over the county, political signs on every corner and nobody seems to care about that,” Derringer said.

Derringer said he feels like he’s being targeted. “This is the third time in the last two or three years that we’ve had them come in,” he said.

He claims the first time, Lakeland Code Enforcement made him take down an American flag.

“It was some small technicality. Apparently, my flag was the wrong diameter, the wrong shape, or the wrong size, by a couple of inches,” Derringer said.

After that, he claims they removed signs that read, “support law enforcement” for being in the right of way.

“The city is not picking on him. We treat everyone the same. We prohibit signage in public right of way. The sign ordinance is content neutral,” Cook said.

“It just seems to me that they’re so rigid with the rules that they don’t use a little common sense. Common sense tells us we should do the right thing. To me, supporting law enforcement, supporting military and supporting our electrical folks, I think that’s the right thing,” Derringer said.

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