At City Hall, flags would need approval to fly under proposed ordinance

"The flags that we raise at City Hall Plaza should reflect and celebrate our City’s values."

Flags fly above Boston City Hall on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2021. Lane Turner/Globe Staff
Grand Old Flag

A trio of city councilors have proposed an ordinance to require either a City Council resolution or mayoral proclamation for a flag to be raised outside Boston City Hall.

The filing was announced by Mayor Michelle Wu’s office on Tuesday, a day before a flag bearing a red Christian cross is slated to fly over City Hall Plaza.

The flag was the focus of a lawsuit filed by Camp Constitution, a Christian group, against the city that argued city officials violated the First Amendment when declining to fly the flag outside City Hall in 2017.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Camp Constitution, ruling that by refusing to raise the flag solely because of its religious message, the city violated the free speech rights of West Roxbury resident Harold Shurtleff, the group’s leader.


In a news release, Wu’s office said the proposed ordinance will require prospective flags to receive a resolution from the City Council or a proclamation from the mayor to be displayed outside the building.

The rule will allow the city to “continue to celebrate flag raising” while also complying with the court ruling, the release states.

“I am grateful for the partnership of the Boston City Council in ensuring future flag raisings comply with the Supreme Court’s decision while empowering us to resume the celebrations of our City’s cultures and communities,” Wu said in a statement. “I’m glad we have a clear way to resolve these legal issues and bring back the beloved traditions we’ve been missing during these proceedings.”

The ordinance was filed by City Council President Ed Flynn and councilors Kenzie Bok and Ruthzee Louijeune.

The sponsors all said the ordinance will, if passed, codify the requirements and process for flags moving forward, thereby ensuring flagpoles express the city’s values.

“The flags that we raise at City Hall Plaza should reflect and celebrate our City’s values, and this ordinance lays out a formal process that will allow us to do that,” Flynn said in a statement.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com