There have been many controversies sparked over homeowners' use of American flags on their properties, but this protest might be one of the more peculiar cases.
A woman in Copenhagen, N.Y., has two U.S. flags flying upside-down in front of her home, a general sign of distress or protest. Of course, she's not just any homeowner: She's a soldier.
The soldier, who is based at Fort Drum and declined to give her name or speak on camera because of her military status, told local TV station WWNY that she's flying the flags upside-down to protest President Barack Obama's re-election. She said that "Obama is trying to destroy the country, and this is her expression of disapproval," WWNY reported.
The soldier vowed to display the flags upside-down outside her home until Obama's second term ends. As might be expected, her protest has gotten the neighborhood talking.
"It just seems kind of disappointing that someone who raises their right hand to protect and defend the Constitution -- and the flag that represents the whole country -- chooses to fly the flag upside-down in some kind of protest," neighbor Adam Boulio, a military veteran, told WWNY. "You always walk a fine line when you're in the military because, like it or not, you're in uniform, so there's only so much you can do or say if you have some active opposition to your command or to the leadership. But there are professional ways to do that, and I don't think this is one of them."
But not everyone railed against the woman's show of disapproval for Obama.
"It's her right. She's protesting something," Mark Souva, another neighbor, told WWNY. "There's no disrespect to the flag that I know of. I just haven't had a chance to talk with her to see that the full story is."
While this soldier isn't flying the flags the way most people might choose to, others -- including a veteran -- have had to fight for the right to fly their flags at all. Last year, Army veteran Fred Quigley was fighting his homeowners association for the right to fly an American flag on a flagpole in his front yard. The HOA said that flags could only be displayed if they are affixed to homes, not flagpoles. And a resident at a senior complex was threatened with eviction for displaying three small American flags -- in violation of her lease, according to the housing authority that runs the complex.
Soldier Flies American Flags Upside-Down to Protest Obama's Re-Election
Location: Stapleton, Colo.
What the homeowner did: Sarah Cohen's 3-year-old daughter, Emerson, drew on the sidewalk using chalk.
The HOA's response: Chalk art potentially offends, disturbs or interferes with "the peaceful enjoyment" of the community and is not allowed. "The association is trying to go down a path of 'do no harm,' " an attorney representing the HOA said.
Outcome: The issue will be brought to a vote at a future HOA meeting. In the meantime, Cohen plans on continuing to let her daughter draw on the sidewalks. "It's summertime, and God forbid my daughter is drawing flowers, her name and hearts," said Cohen.
What the homeowner did: Nick and Jeni Dreis took home a 6-month-old red kangaroo as a vocational training animal for their 16-year-old daughter, Kala, who has Down’s Syndrome.
The HOA's response: The family should “immediately remove the kangaroo from the property, as it is not a household pet nor can it be maintained for any business purposes.”
Outcome: In the wake of widespread public support for the Dreises, the HOA reversed its position. “The letter should never have been sent,” said Jeff Crilley of the Estates of Legend Ranch Homeowners Association. “[HOA officials] were unaware that the kangaroo was being used for therapy purposes.”
What the homeowner did: Planted perennial flowers in her yard. Kimberly Bois claimed she had the plants in her yard before the condo board even existed and had permission from the developer to plant them.
The HOA's response: Sent the homeowner 13 certified letters demanding she remove the plants, starting with a cease-and-desist order and escalating to thousands of dollars in fines and penalties. "It's not about do you like these flowers or don't you," said the condo association’s attorney, Sandy Roberts. "It's a question of was it authorized and is it permanent."
Outcome: Condo association filed a lawsuit against Bois to pay $4,500 in back fines and $8,000 in attorney’s fees.
What the homeowner did: Barbara Cadranel put a mezuzah on the doorframe of her apartment.
The HOA's response: Threatened to impose a $50-a-day fine until the religious door fixture is removed.
Outcome: The condo association agreed that Cadranel could hang her mezuzah and rescinded all penalties and fees against her. It also said it will allow residents to place mezuzahs and other religious symbols on doorframes without requiring advance approval.
What the homeowner did: Tiffany Veloudis built a playhouse for her 3-year-old son, Cooper, who has cerebral palsy, on the instructions of the toddler’s therapist. It cost the family $5,000 to construct.
The HOA's response: Demanded that the playhouse be removed and ordered the Veloudis family to pay $50 for every day the playhouse remains in their yard.
Outcome: After the story garnered national attention, the association decided the playhouse could stay until a solution could be worked out. State representative Richard Henderson has submitted a bill to enable homeowners to build small structures for therapy purposes with doctor approval, regardless of HOA rules.
What the homeowner did: Jodi and Timothy Burr put up a front yard banner supporting their son, Corey, a lance corporal in the Marines who was serving in Afghanistan at the time.
The HOA's response: Told the family it was breaking the HOA's rule prohibiting all signs from public display.
Outcome: The HOA sued the Burrs when they refused to remove the sign. The Burrs argue that other homeowners have signs in their yards, and that the enforcement of the rule is “selective.” They also are trying to meet with the HOA to discuss possible revisions to the rule.