Cicero's Mexican Flag Controversey


There's trouble brewing in Cicero over a flag. Besides the U.S. and Illinois flags, as well as what the Trib refers to as "sports flags," a community park has recently displayed the Mexican flag. Over recent years, Cicero's population has shifted from Eastern European to a majority of Latino residents (80 percent, according to a Town Trustee). Still, the non-Latino residents weren't happy about it. Helen Brave saw the flag at a recent park opening and said, "You know, it really hurts me...There were a lot of different people at the park, including Polish, Lithuanian and Italian people. Yet they were flying the Mexican flag?" She also suggested an ordinance to ban flying foreign flags on public property. Resident Susan Masek had harsher words at a recent town meeting, saying, "We are at war and you're flying a foreign flag? We want that flag down. This is the United States. Only the American flag should be there."

For his part, Town President Larry Dominick offered the explanation that the flag was flown Labor Day weekend in celebration of the beginning of Latin Heritage Month. The flag was then taken down but raised again to celebrate El Grito, honoring Mexican independence, and was taken down last week. A town official said national flags of various heritages are rotated at Town Hall. A Cicero spokesman said there are no intentions of passing any ordinance similar to what Brave suggested and that the town would continue to fly foreign flags at the park on corresponding ethnicholidays.

The issue of which flags to fly can be a slippery slope. If the Mexican flag was flown only on the appropriate holidays and other ethnic groups are fairly represented, then reactions like that of Masek are jingoistic hyperbole. This isn't the Confederate flag over a state capitol, after all. But Cicero is setting itself up for a bevy of complaints. If it plans to honor everyone equally, where does it end? How much of the town's population should be represented to have the appropriate flag flown?

Photo by kkelly2007

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