Man flies flag upside down, a direct distress call - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Man flies flag upside down, a direct distress call to the government

PULASKI COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -

Are you frustrated over the budget situation? You're not alone. In fact, one Pulaski County man is making a pretty bold statement. He's flying an American flag upside down.

"When they get the mess in Washington cleaned up I'll be more than happy to take the flag down," said Kevin Burns of Mounds.

Burns calls himself patriotic. "I'm not doing this to make a statement against our military. I have nothing but respect for them."

Instead, he says it's a statement. "I don't know what else to do," said Burns. "Our country is in distress, and it's a distress signal."

According to U.S. flag code, the only permissible reason to fly the American flag upside down is in a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

"Something has got to give," said Burns. 

It might not be extreme danger, but he considers the debt debate a dangerous situation.

"I've got $2 to my name right now," said Burns. "If I don't get my check on the 3rd I'll lose my van and owe $3,000. And, still electric will be shut off, water shut off."

Leslie and Carol Taylor also rely on social security checks, but don't agree with this message.

"It's wrong," said Taylor. "That's our country's symbol and should be respected above everything."

But others say this statement is right on the money.

"As a distress signal I agree with him. I think our country is in distress. I've never seen it this bad."

And, Kevin Burns fears the worst. As a man on disability with a wife and disabled son to care for he's worried.

"Our country can't go on this way," said Burns.

He says two county deputies stopped by and asked him to take his flag down.

"I have every right in the world," said Burns. There are no laws against it. The constitution guarantees me the right to freedom of speech, and I'm exercising my rights."

Kevin Burns says he's spoken with an attorney and plans to fight if anyone tries to force him to take this flag down.

A flag etiquette expert we spoke with at a local VFW hall says, while it's not illegal to hang a flag upside down it is poor taste.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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