North Dakota police officials have no problem spraying Dakota Access pipeline protesters with water in winter. But an American flag being flown upside down? Now that’s inhumane.
Law enforcement in Morton County, the site of the protests, noticed the upside-down flag near the Cannonball protest camps this week. It offended them so much that they stole it when nobody was around.
“I called our airboat teams, and one of our Cass County captains and one of our SWAT team members went down and got it,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said in a video Friday. “And we’re very proud of that.
Laney said an upside-down flag is known as a sign of distress. It’s also a political statement, meant to signify that American values are being subverted.
The rescue operation proves this point. What is more upside down than the police rescuing a flag, when only days earlier, they decided to soak protesters with a water hose in sub-freezing weather?
“That flag was brought home and treated with respect that it deserves,” Laney said, without a hint of irony.
More troubling, Laney believes that law enforcement are sworn to protect the flag, which is completely false. He also believes the flag is the source of First Amendment rights — also wrong.
Laney says the protesters “disrespected the very symbol that gives them the right to do that. … And to flaunt it, in front of those of us who have taken an oath to uphold it and defend it, just didn’t sit well.”
The sheriff should know that the flag does not bestow any rights. The Constitution does that.
He should also know that police take an oath to uphold and defend people, not the flag.
In West Fargo, police swear an oath that reads in part:
“As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception; the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violation or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice.”
Here is a link to the oath, which makes no mention of the flag. Laney would do well to read it again.