Arrest, Death Threat, for Farmer with Upside Down Flag
By Matthew Rothschild
July 19, 2006
Dale Klyn raises beef cows in Corydon, Iowa.
For the past six years, he has been flying an American flag on his property.
But since May 21, that flag has been upside down.
He gives two reasons.
First, he’s angry at a judge for allowing a debtor of his to declare bankruptcy. The debtor, who had bought a business from Klyn on a contract and still owed him $282,000, now only has to “pay me six cents on the dollar,” says Klyn. “The judge approved that on the 18th of May. I was pretty upset about that.”
Second, he wants to show solidarity for Terri Jones.
She’s the Iowa mom who has been flying her flag upside down after her son returned from the Iraq War and committed suicide. (Klyn had never met her before.)
“When I got the Des Moines Register and read the article about Terri Jones and how her son didn’t get the medical attention he needed, I decided I’m going to support her and oppose what the judge had done and fly my flag upside down,” he says.
It got a reaction.
“I went to the local Case equipment dealer and bought some parts, and the salesman come out and he asked me why I was flying the flag upside down,” Klyn says. “So I explained it to him.”
But the salesman wasn’t sold, telling Klyn, “I’ve lost all respect for you. I’ll buy you a one-way ticket anywhere you want to go out of the country,” Klyn recalls.
Klyn says his postal worker also remarked on it.
“The mail carrier left me a personal note,” he says.
A local TV news reporter then came out and did a story on him.
“The next thing I knew I’d been charged with disorderly conduct,” he says. “I was surprised. I have the right and the freedom to do that.”
On July 6, Klyn, represented by the Iowa ACLU, met with a magistrate.
“I pled not guilty,” Klyn says. “No trial date has been set.” Terri Jones, by the way, went to court that day to support him.
“She came to my hearing," he says. “It was very kind of her.”
Alan Wilson, the county attorney who is prosecuting the case, did not return three phone messages for comment.
But Klyn’s troubles go beyond this court case.
He faces death threats from a forum on a Marine vets’ website, www.leatherneck.com, which calls itself the “Marine Corps Community for USMC Veterans.”
That forum contained the following remarks from four different Marines:
“Any scout snipers live in Corydon, Iowa???”
“Corn hole ’m.”
“Fly him under it upside down.”
“If the flag is flying upside down, it means he is in trouble, right? I think we Marines should show up and get him ‘out’ of trouble.”
Says Klyn: “I view it as a threat."
Iowa's newest veterans number more than 9,125, but only 1,956 have enrolled for VA benefits. That's about 21 percent; nationally 25 to 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are accessing mental health care.
Studies show that between 12 percent and 20 percent of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. That could mean that as many as 2,000 Iowans - with more than 9,000 Iraq or Afghanistan veterans living here, and at least 1,249 more currently serving in the Middle East - are suffering now or could develop symptoms.
When Klyn had learned a friend was protesting the government’s treatment of American soldiers in Iraq, he showed his support by following her example: he hung his American flag upside down.
Klyn’s house, situated west of Corydon on Highway 2, gets a lot of traffic. A number of nearby residents didn’t appreciate Klyn’s treatment of the flag and complained to Wayne County Sheriff Keith Davis.
After attempts to convince Klyn to turn his flag back failed, County Attorney Alan Wilson cited Klyn with a simple midemeanor for public disorder.
Under Iowa code section 723.4 subsection 6, “A person commits a simple misdemeanor when the person knowingly and publicly uses the flag of the United States in such a manner as to show disrespect for the flag as a symbol of the United States, with the intent or reasonable expectation that such use will provoke or encourage another to commit a public offense. “
“By citing [Mr. Klyn] for a misdemeanor,” Ben Stone, Executive Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa says, “they’re saying, ‘we’re gonna use the statute to make this protest punishible by law.’ That, in itself, is totally un-American.”
After learning of Wayne County’s citation of Klyn, the ACLU of Iowa volunteered to represent him in fighting the penalty. According to Stone, the Iowa code violates Klyn’s First Amendment right to free speech.
The colors of the flag have meaning as well:
« Older DAMMIT, DOSED AGAIN! Well, once again I got a cup ... | "I ask, what is his real agend... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt