Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cops Steal Vet's Flag ... Call Protected Speech "Illegal"

Troubling when those tasked with enforcing the law don't understand it.
by Joshua Holland

Every freshman who's ever taken a class in civics and government knows that there's no point in having free speech if it only protects popular expression. Apparently, those tasked with enforcing the law in one Wisconsin town aren't aware of that rather simple axiom.

An American flag flown upside down as a protest in a northern Wisconsin village was seized by police before a Fourth of July parade and the businessman who flew it - an Iraq war veteran - claims the officers trespassed and stole his property.

A day after the parade, police returned the flag and the man's protest - over a liquor license - continued.

In mid-June, Congine, 46, began flying the flag upside down - an accepted way to signal distress - outside the restaurant he wants to open in Crivitz, a village of about 1,000 people some 65 miles north of Green Bay.


Neighbor Steven Klein watched in disbelief.

"I said, 'What are you doing?' Klein said. "They said, 'It is none of your business.'"

The next day, police returned the flag.


Marinette County Sheriff Jim Kanikula said it was not illegal to fly the flag upside down but people were upset and it was the Fourth of July.


"It is illegal to cause a disruption," he said.

Hours before a Fourth of July parade, four police officers went to Congine's property and removed the flag under the advice of Marinette County District Attorney Allen Brey.

And then this jaw-droppingly un-American statement:

Village President John Deschane, 60, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, said many people in town believe it's disrespectful to fly the flag upside down.

"If he wants to protest, let him protest but find a different way to do it," Deschane said.

Yes, because we're free to protest as long as we do it in such a way that's approved by the "village president."


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