- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2016

An Army veteran who flew a U.S. flag upside down outside his Iowa home last week was reportedly arrested and charged with desecration of the flag.

Homer Martz flew the upside-down U.S. flag under a Chinese flag to protest an oil pipeline being built near his home in Calhoun County, The Messenger reported Friday.

Mr. Martz said two Calhoun County sheriffs came to his home Thursday morning and took the flags down without his consent.

“They said, ‘You can’t do this. We have a statute.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry but you shouldn’t have took them down,” he said. “So I walked back out and put them back up, and they arrested me.”

Under Iowa law, flag desecration is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and up to 30 days in jail, The Messenger reported.

“If they had asked me to take them down, and showed me the statute, I would have taken them down,” Mr. Martz told the paper. “But in my book, they trespassed by taking the flags down.”

He said the officers told him the flagpole, posted at the end of his driveway, was in the county right-of-way. He said the officers also removed a sign he posted on the flagpole that read, “In China there is no freedom, no protesting, no due process,” The Messenger reported.

“They took my sign,” Mr. Martz said. “So I have to go buy the materials to make a new sign.”

The Supreme Court ruled in separate cases in 1989 and 1990 that flag desecration is a form of constitutionally protected “political expression.” Despite this, at least 40 states still have unconstitutional flag-desecration laws in place, The Associated Press reported last month.

“I’m a soldier,” Mr. Martz told The Messenger. “When I walked to the airport in the ‘70s with my dress uniform on, I was spit on. I stood in front of people that were protesting, and I’ve been cussed at. And like I said, that’s their rights. I’ve never infringed on their rights.

“But you know, freedom of speech, freedom to protest — people can burn the American flag,” he added. “It’s legal. That’s the Supreme Court.”

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