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."