Hansen found not guilty after September 2023 flag-flying incident

By Zach Jensen,

This photo, taken by a Decorah police officer and used as evidence during Hansen’s court case, shows how Hansen affixed the Gadsden flag to the city’s light pole in front of Club 45 in September 2023. Hansen was originally charged with trespassing on government property, because after he was made aware of the violation, he refused to remedy it, according to court documents. But, that charge was later amended to a municipal infraction, because the City reportedly didn’t want Hansen to incur a criminal charge for the incident.

This photo, taken by a Decorah police officer and used as evidence during Hansen’s court case, shows how Hansen affixed the Gadsden flag to the city’s light pole in front of Club 45 in September 2023. Hansen was originally charged with trespassing on government property, because after he was made aware of the violation, he refused to remedy it, according to court documents. But, that charge was later amended to a municipal infraction, because the City reportedly didn’t want Hansen to incur a criminal charge for the incident.

A Decorah man is feeling great after a municipal infraction case against him was dismissed late last month.

Thomas Hansen was facing charges stemming from Decorah City allegations that he violated City Code on Sept. 16, 2023, when he affixed the famous Gadsden flag, which reads “Don’t Tread on Me,” to the city light pole in front of Club 45 in downtown Decorah. Specifically, Hansen was charged with violating Decorah City Code 12.20.080 and 12.20.120 regarding sidewalk displays and City Code 17.16.120(D) for displaying a sign on public property without the appropriate permit.

In an April 27 filing, Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Moonen found Hansen not guilty of both charges and subsequently dismissed the case against him.

“The judge made the decision that I was not guilty, and he dismissed all the charges against me,” Hansen said. “It feels great. Our Decorah City Council spends an enormous amount of time claiming what a diverse and inclusive city this is, but that’s only if you fit into their political parameters. If not, they’ll try to shut you down, and in this case, they lost, so it’s time that they live up to their word.”

Decorah City Administrator Travis Goedken didn’t share Hansen’s enthusiasm.

“We are disappointed in the outcome, and we’re talking about the city’s options moving forward,” Goedken said. “What’s ironic is that Mr. Hansen could have been charged with trespass, and that was the original charge that we filed. We amended it, because trespassing also carries a criminal (charge) with it, and we didn’t want to have to go that route. Hindsight may be 20/20 on that.”

Goedken was referring to the fact that in a Sept. 21, 2023, court filing, Hansen was originally charged with trespassing on city property. But, because the city didn’t want Hansen to face criminal charges for the violation, Goedken said the city amended the charges on Oct. 30, 2023, to reflect the two aforementioned municipal infractions that don’t carry criminal charges.

“This has never been about the Pride parade,” Hansen said. “I’ve always been supportive of that, and it’s always been about treating everyone equally and letting everyone fly their flags during their celebrations, which they do with Nordic Fest and Syttende Mai, Luther College and anything to do with the Decorah High School. If they want to preach equality, they have to live up to their words.”

Full article in the May 9 Public Opinion Newspaper.

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Julie beckman
Guest
1 month ago

What does the flag really mean

mary mccabe
Guest
1 month ago

NUTS

Alvin Moen
Guest
1 month ago

I support Mr Hansen and agree that Decorah City Counsel is biased on equality unless it fits their narrative! I’m glad the judge saw through the bias and ruled in his favor ! It’s time for patriotic citizens to stand up for their rights

Ran Hansen
Guest
1 month ago

He should have been charged with trespassing and kicked out of the building.

Steven Wright
Guest
1 month ago

The City Should have kept the Trespass charge in place,, Never try to appease a Bully like Hansen is. the Judge said he was guilty of Trespassing.. Never back down from this Bully.