Swastika suit dropped, flags still up

HANOVER — A lawsuit aimed at taking down offensive Nazi flags at a Hanover Road address has been dropped.

Cathy Kaicher, the woman who initiated the lawsuit proceedings, informed the Hanover Town Board of her intentions. “I’m going to be dropping the lawsuit,” Kaicher stated. “Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), I’m just not willing to put myself out there like that.”

In order for the proceedings to have gone forward, Kaicher’s personal medical information would have to become an open book to the public. “I would have to do that, because legally I have to say that I’m emotionally distressed by it,” Kaicher went on to say. “They would look into my medical records and I can’t just sacrifice myself that way.”

From there, however, Kaicher inquired from the board if there was anything else legally that could be done to remove the flags. “I’m just wondering if the town board has any ideas on how to get the swastika (flags) removed,” she asked. “Legally we can’t make him, but I’m just wondering if there’s any way to have them taken down.”

Deputy Supervisor Louis Pelletter was unable to give any further guidance moving forward. “My understanding is that between the DA, sheriff, zoning, everybody looked at it,” he said. “They’re looking at it as freedom of speech.”

In a recent OBSERVER phone interview with Michelle and Jeffrey Martin, neighbors to Todd Schilling — the owner of the Nazi flags, the Martins explained how they are still experiencing Schilling’s hate speech on a daily basis.

“People still think this is all about flags, the chickens, but it’s not,” Michelle Martin stated. “We still to this day don’t know why he focused on the chickens.

“Our chickens have been contained for two years, they’re not free-range chickens. They have nothing to do with anything. He (Schilling) has told me he isn’t taking those flags down until the day we move.”

When the OBSERVER mentioned that the lawsuit was to be dropped, the Martins had no knowledge of the change in status of the lawsuit, rebuking Schilling’s claim that they were involved in the lawsuit at all. They believe that Schilling just truly hates his neighbors and wants them gone by any means.

“We’re not trying to take away his rights,” said Jeffrey Martin. “We defend freedom of speech, but they’re swearing (and gesturing) at our kids on a weekly basis.”

The Martins also deny any involvement in Schilling’s accusations regarding the removal of the driveway stakes or cutting of surveillance video wires, mentioned in a previous OBSERVER article. “My husband did not cut those wires,” Michelle Martin stated. “The police involved acknowledged it was nothing.”

On the legal side of the situation, Schilling and his Nazi flags both still appear to be untouchable moving forward. “It’s really reprehensible what he’s doing, but terrible isn’t always criminal,” Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson stated in a previous interview with the OBSERVER in regards to Schilling.

As for the Martins, no solution appears to be in sight, barring Schilling having some miraculous change of heart. “They’re protected by First Amendment rights because its their property,” Michelle Martin stated. “For people who say to build a fence, it’s not going to work.”

Schilling, who also previously claimed he was not a racist or antisemite, certainly continues to use language befitting of one, according to the Martins. “They are racist, we know that,” Michelle Martin stated in closing. “She (Schilling’s mother) has called me a (racial slur) and I have it on video. We have evidence, but we can’t do anything.”