News

Who turned fire station flag upside down — and why?

Someone turned the U.S. flag upside down Thursday on the flagpole at the Cuesta fire station, according to Battalion Chief John Owen. Although their motive is unclear, political protest by those opposed to President-elect Barack Obama is one possibility.

"I think somebody essentially vandalized the flag," Owen said.

Flying the flag upside down is a symbol of distress. Over the last few days, according to numerous news reports, people and businesses all over the U.S. have been flying the flag upside down as a statement against the incoming president.

"Sure smells like political protest to me," said Ken Chaney, who was standing in front of the station on Thursday afternoon. Since it had been two days since Obama won the election, the timing upset him.

"On an official public building, that's not right."

Owen said the fire department had received a "flurry" of phone calls starting at 2:45 p.m. from those concerned about the flag, leading him to believe that someone ran it down the flagpole, flipped it and ran it up again in broad daylight. Firefighters changed it back after their return from fixing a gas leak at 3:25 p.m.

According to news reports, flags began flying upside down on Wednesday in various parts of the country in protest of the election of Obama. But some reports say people are flying the flag upside down only to symbolize difficult times for the U.S.

The U.S. Flag Code states that the flag "should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

Comments

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Vandalism? A bit of a stretch. Tresspassing, maybe. I personally disagree with the anti-Obama message, but its a fairly tame political statement, hardly worth the Voices attention


Posted by Betty, a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 8, 2008 at 10:47 am

Maybe it was the opponents of Prop 8. Why always villianize the right.


Posted by PA Resident, a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Flying a flag upside down is an international call for help.


Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2008 at 3:30 pm

well, Betty, since there have been reports--mentioned in the article-- of McCain supporters doing exactly this in other parts of the country, it is a reasonable conclusion. Why is everyone on the right so sensitive?


Posted by kent, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 9, 2008 at 3:24 pm

I agreed with Betty's comment, 1000%. :)


Posted by Ed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 10, 2008 at 11:47 am

[Post removed by Mountain View Voice staff.

Ed, the police do not know who turned the flag upside down, or whether he was in a political or even GOP, and neither do you. -USA]


Posted by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor
on Nov 10, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

Very funny USA. Looks like you're inviting a comparison between your wild accusations in Town Square and this report.

Your Town Square post, on the Molotov cocktail-thrower thwarted on Del Medio Avenue (and which I removed): "Yet another Mexican gang banger brought to you by Mtn. View's sanctuary and subsidized housing."

Our report on the upside-down flag: "Although their motive is unclear, political protest by those opposed to President-elect Barack Obama is one possibility."

Our conjecture, which was posed with a "possibly," was based on reports like this one from the Beaver County Times:

"PULASKI TWP. — The day after Barack Obama became president-elect of the United States, Larry DeBaker flew Old Glory outside his Pulaski Township home — upside down." Web Link ... and there are dozens of others.

Yours was based on nothing at all, and was proved false on Friday when police announced the attack was motived not by gang activity but by someone out to punish sex offenders.


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 10, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Ah, good catch. I had forgotten to use a linguistic get-out-of-jail-free card in my post. For example, "Obama is a coke-snorting, islamofascist, social who will raise taxes" is bad whereas "Obama is a coke-snorting, islamofascist, social who will raise taxes, possibly" is OK. Likewise, the headline "Attacks on sex offenders may be connected" doesn't really mean it is true, just possibly true.

So, with all the Prop 8 protests going on the last few days, you connect the Mountain View incident with some yahoo in a double-wide in a remote part of Pennsylvania who turns his own flag upside down? Could well be true, but if you are playing the "possibility" game, why not include the prop 8 protesters?

For what is it worth, I think you are right about the flag being connected to the Obama election. The upside down flag is more of a conservative thing which shows love of country but concern over the state of things, whereas the flag burning is more of a liberal thing showing hatred of country. But, of course, we are just playing the "possibility" game ... it could be Mexican gangs.


Posted by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor
on Nov 10, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

This isn't about parsing linguistics, it's about sanity vs. insanity.

For example, "Obama is a coke-snorting, islamofascist, social who will raise taxes, possibly" isn't OK because of the "possibly." It's still a lot of crazy nonsense, which is why you used it as an example.

Another, unintended example of crazy is you accusing "Mexican gang bangers" of a crime completely at random and without the vaguest clue about it. It's now an established fact that you were wrong. (You seem more upset about being redacted than about being wrong.) In my opinion, this wasn't even a good guess on your part, it was just a gratuitous bit of race baiting, which is why I took it down.

As for the rest, what can I say? You think we're right about the flag thing, but why didn't we implicate other groups anyway?

Journalist are no different from anybody else. We observe the world and the people in it and make commonsense assumptions and deductions. That's why we (and you) figured that anti-Obama people are logical candidates as being the flag-flippers. It squares with our experience. By contrast, calling Obama an islamofascist doesn't square with anything any of us have seen in the real world.

We then draw secondary, unprovable assumptions from these observations, and these are our opinions (e.g. conservatives love America and are concerned about it, while liberals hate America). Opinions like these are always welcome on Town Square.


Posted by JV, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 11, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Maybe the firefighters were signalling their need for tax dollars to subsidize them living in the View.


Posted by wundacat, a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 14, 2008 at 11:51 am

Maybe ... the person in charge of the flag just hooked it on there the wrong way and never looked up to check. Why is this even a story?


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