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Supporters gather at Brann's Steakhouse over flag controversy

A group of supporters for Brann's rallied outside the restaurant on Saturday afternoon.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - After the city of Grand Rapids issued Brann's Steakhouse an enforcement letter about flags hanging outside the restaurant, owner Johnny Brann said he wouldn't take them down.

This controversy has prompted people to rally around Brann's decision, and on Saturday May 5, they rallied around the restaurant to show their support. The small group of demonstrators held up signs that stand behind law enforcement and Johnny Brann.

Some of the group were there to show their support for Eric Burri, one of the people whose name is on the flags.

Following the demonstration, the group continued their support of Brann's by eating at the restaurant.

The flags have the names of local police officers and military personnel who were killed in the line of duty. Brann says the flags are displayed as a tribute to law enforcement and the military.

The city issued the letter because they say that the display is a violation of zoning ordinances and that there are too many flags up for the building size. Steve Guitar, the spokesman for the city of Grand Rapids, said that they letter was not issued because of the content of the signs.

"I could understand if there were sports teams up there or unpatriotic signs," said Bryan Covington, the organizer of the event. "I think nowadays, patriotism should always be encouraged and not discouraged. There shouldn't be an ordinance against patriotism."

He said that he thinks any display of patriotism should be exempt from city ordinances.

Applicants who want to get a sign variance must pay a $1,349 fee. Then after a public hearing, the Zoning Appeals Board makes a recommendation to the City Commission where the ultimate decision is made.

A GoFundMe was set up for Brann by some of his supporters to raise money for the variance fee. It raised over $3,700.

Rose White is a digital producer for 13 On Your Side. You can contact her at rwhite@wzzm13.com or on Twitter.

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