By Kathy Chouteau
An El Sobrante home that had recently drawn criticism and a visit from the local sheriff for displaying an upside down American flag with a swastika on it, no longer has the controversial piece on display, the Standard can confirm after a visit to the location today.
The home, which is located on Argyle Road across from the El Sobrante Christian School, has always been plastered with political signage and statements, with the swastika-laden flag being a recent addition, according to a KTVU report. While most of the home’s signage remains, the aforementioned flag was gone when the Standard stopped by today.
El Sobrante Christian School Principal Scott Cox told KTVU that the nearby home’s newest display was “disturbing” and that it “represents terror to people.” However, Cox turned the experience into a teachable moment for his students about U.S. citizens’ right to free speech via the First Amendment, per the report.
Aside from explaining to the students why the upside down flag with the swastika was “so offensive,” Cox also took action by raising an American flag on the school’s flagpole directly across the street, according to KTVU. He later speculated that the Russian war in Ukraine had instigated the nearby house’s own flag-raising.
Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputies responded to the home, according to KTVU, but determined “there were no law violations,” said spokesman Jimmy Lee.
KTVU spoke with Teresa Drenick, deputy regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco and a former Alameda County prosecutor, who confirmed that displays of hateful symbols like a swastika, particularly on private property, are protected by the First Amendment.
However, Drenick added, “We as a society also have free speech rights, and we have a right to speak out and call out hate when we see it, call out anti-Semitism when we see it,” according to the KTVU report.
According to the U.S. flag code, the American 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.” Many people see the act of doing so for political reasons as a sign of disrespect, not to mention doing so with a swastika which, in spite of its benevolent Hindu origins, has been a symbol of hate in the West since its use by Nazi Germany.