Iowa Man Ends Up in Jail Over Upside Down Flag

Homer Martz was trying to protest an oil pipeline
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2016 4:09 PM CDT
Iowa Man Ends Up in Jail Over Upside Down Flag
A stack of completed United States flags is shown.   (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

A 63-year-old Calhoun County, Iowa, man was none too pleased about an oil pipeline being constructed between his home and his well and decided to quietly protest—only to end up briefly jailed. Homer Martz raised the American flag upside down, with the Chinese flag above, and was on Friday arrested and charged with desecration of the flag. That's a simple misdemeanor, reports North Iowa Today. "Do you know what an upside-down American flag means? It means distress," Martz told the Messenger News in advance of his arrest. The Messenger News has a photo of Martz's flagpole, which also shows a sign he erected on it reading, "In China there is no freedom, no protesting, no due process. In Iowa? In America?"

The Messenger News has the backstory on the Dakota Access LLC pipeline, which will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois and has received formal approval from Iowa; Martz says he had been told the pipeline wouldn't end up on his land, and was never invited to meetings regarding it. The well is deeded to Martz but is actually on his neighbor's land. The neighbor, Ken Anderson, didn't sign a voluntary easement and so Dakota Access obtained one via eminent domain. Among Martz's concerns: "Pipes, when you dig under a pipeline and you don't put it back on solid ground, that's when they freeze. That's what they're going to do." The AP reports flag desecration is punishable by up to 30 days in jail in Iowa. North Iowa Today reports a court date has not been set. (This teacher was fired for stepping on a US flag in class.)

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