'Here for one thing: my freedom of speech': 30A homeowner remains defiant on pro-Trump banners

Jim Thompson
Northwest Florida Daily News

SEAGROVE BEACH — Just days away from a hearing in front of Walton County's code compliance magistrate, Seagrove Beach homeowner Marvin Peavy remains adamant that he won't take down two large banners hanging from his Walton County Road 30A home expressing support for former President Donald Trump.

One of the banners reads "Trump Won," while the other reads "Let's go Brandon," a veiled insult to President Joe Biden.

Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 presidential balloting. But Peavy is among the significant number of people across the country who contend the election was rigged against Trump, despite the failure of numerous lawsuits to prove electoral irregularities.

Marvin Peavy (at the podium), the Walton County Road 30A homeowner cited by county code officials for pro-Donald Trump banners hanging from his home, vowed that the banners will stay up during a speech at the South Walton Republican Club meeting Thursday.

'Not going to take it down': 30A property owner hangs 'Trump Won' banner on home despite fines

Nonetheless, a recent poll by the political news website Politico and the data intelligence firm Morning Consult noted that just 22% of self-identified 2020 Trump voters believe the 2020 elections were free and fair, with 72% saying that balloting was either probably or definitely not free and fair.

A free speech issue

"I'm going to stand up. I won't go down — until I win," Peavy, a south Georgia real estate and property management businessman who lives in the Seagrove Beach house four days each week, told a wildly supportive crowd at Thursday night's meeting of the South Walton Republican Club.

"I'm here for one thing: my freedom of speech," Peavy said as he got a standing ovation from an audience of nearly 100 people. "I'm not taking my sign(s) down." 

Peavy was cited by the county code compliance office in July for the "Trump Won" banner — the first to be installed at the house — under provisions of the county land development code that limit signage for properties adjoining CR 30A in connection with the route's local status as a scenic corridor.

The code section, which does not address political content of signage, prohibits display of "streamers, feather flags, pennants, ribbons, spinner and other similar devices" on property adjacent to the beachside route.

"It could have said 'Minnesota Vikings' " and still have been subject to a citation, county code compliance manager Mike Lynch said Friday. 

Standing between cardboard cutouts of former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Seagrove Beach homeowner Marvin Peavy told the South Walton Republican Club on Thursday that, despite a citation from Walton County code compliance officials, he intends to continue displaying two large pro-Trump banners on the side of his house.

At an Oct. 20 hearing, county Code Compliance Magistrate Hayward Dykes Jr. found Peavy in violation of the county's land development code and set a compliance hearing for Nov. 17.

The upcoming Wednesday hearing — at which Peavy could face fines of as much as $250 per day, starting with the Oct. 25 date when Dykes ordered that fines start being calculated if the "Trump Won" banner didn't come down — is set for 2 p.m. in the South Walton Courthouse Annex at 31 Coastal Centre Boulevard in Santa Rosa Beach.

A defiant Peavy installed the "Let's go Brandon" banner, which also hangs down three stories on the west-facing side of his home, within a week of Dykes' order becoming effective.

The county code office subsequently received a complaint about that second banner, and code officials at the upcoming hearing will advise Dykes of that complaint, leaving it to him to determine how the issue of the second banner will be handled, Lynch said Friday.

Banners supporting former President Donald Trump hang from Marvin Peavy's home in Seagrove Beach. Peavy has been cited for the banners under a section of Walton County's land development code governing signage along the Walton County Road 30A corridor, and faces a code magistrate hearing on Wednesday.

County Code Compliance Director Tony Cornman said recently that there are additional sanctions that could be applied in Peavy's case, but he did not say specifically what they might be.

Backed by fellow Trump supporters

Meanwhile, a move is underway to fill the meeting room at the code magistrate hearing with Peavy's supporters.

"We want to pack that room, and we want to tell them what free speech means to the people of Walton County," Miramar Beach businesswoman and staunch Peavy supporter Suzanne Harris told the crowd at Thursday's Republican Club meeting.

Peavy has retained a Tallahassee law firm to represent him at the hearing, and said Thursday that he will speak if given a chance.

'Let's go Brandon': Second banner joins 'Trump Won' banner on Seagrove Beach house

He spoke for a little more than five minutes at Thursday's Republican Club meeting, alternating between stand-up comedy and an impassioned plea for free speech.

"I'm a good southern Georgian, but I'm fixing to be a north Floridan and I'm fixing to join up with y'all because I love fighting for what is right," he said. "It's the right thing to do.

"My wife is even more of a fighter than I am," Peavy continued. "... She looks real sweet, but she's mean as hell sometimes. I know y'all probably got one of those at home, too. 

"It's about free speech, guys," he said. "... If they take this from us, guys, who the hell are we? Will we be able to say, 'I pledge allegiance to the flag,' or will we be able to say the Lord's Prayer? I mean, what do you want to do? What do you stand for?"

In the days since his citation, people have offered to pay or help to pay whatever fines might eventually be assessed against Peavy. One of those people, he said Thursday, was a young girl.    

"This little girl came up to me, and she was like 12 years old, and she wanted to give me money," Peavy said. "I'm like, 'I don't need no money,' but her daddy told me, 'You're going to take the money because she believes in your cause.' I don't cry for nothing, and it brought tears to my eyes."

Peavy has also seen other signs of support, including people who have gathered in front of his house on recent Sundays to wave Trump-themed and free speech-related flags and signs, and otherwise express support for his stand. That support routinely prompts motorists passing by to wave or honk their horns, and has also included people stopping by with pizza and barbecue for the people in front of Peavy's house.

"I've got great people backing me. I've had great people out at my house," Peavy said during his speech at the Republican Club meeting. "I've eaten some damn good food, from barbecue places, pizza places.

"Y'all are all just like me," he added. "We're all the same kind of people. We love God, we love our country and we're here to fight for it."