Flagged down: Activists arrested in row over protest flag, allege abuse by Buncombe deputy

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Flagged down: Activists arrested in row over protest flag, allege abuse by Buncombe deputy

by David Forbes

The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office arrested activists Mark and Deborah Kuhn in West Asheville Wednesday morning after a complaint that the couple was desecrating an American flag. They say a deputy invaded their home and used excessive force. [The photo, taken by a neighbor, shows Mark on the ground, with Deborah standing by, during the arrest.]

The flag was hung upside down as an act of protest and had several statements pinned to it, including a picture of President Bush with the words "Out Now" upon it and one explaining the meaning of the upside down flag, a sign of distress.

The Kuhns, along with several neighbors and witnesses, assert that a sheriff's deputy violently invaded their home at 68 Brevard Road. The sheriff’s office claims that the couple assaulted deputy Brian Scarborough and resisted arrest.

According to the report from the sheriff’s office, Scarborough arrived at the home at 8:45 a.m. in response to a complaint about the desecration of a flag.

Lt. Randy Sorrell says that while the address was in the city of Asheville, "when we receive a complaint that the law is being broken, we have to respond."

Under a rarely enforced state statute, it is a misdemeanor to desecrate or trample a U.S. or North Carolina flag. The Kuhns said the flag was taken as evidence, though the sheriff’s department has no record of it.

After knocking on the door, the couple answered it and, after being shown the statute, said they complied and took the flag down. Scarborough then asked for their identification.

"The flag covered our whole front porch; he comes up with this printout about the law and tells us that we can’t attach things to the flag, that we’re desecrating it," Deborah Kuhn said. "We tell him we're not meaning to desecrate it - all we had was a picture of [President] Bush with 'out now' on it and a note saying this was not a sign of distress or disrespect. We did this because the country is in distress and we don't know what to do."

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x-posted: aroundasheville.blogsopt.com


brooke Fri Jul 27, 01:44:00 AM EDT  

*shudder* and my conservative friends here in utah keep wondering why i want more than anything to end up at the university of british columbia.. why i'm really sick of the state of things in this country. thanks for posting this susan, i appreciate it. i'll be showing it off next time someone starts rambling about free speech and the what not. *shudder*

Julie Fri Jul 27, 09:35:00 PM EDT  

*shudder* indeed.
Flags mainly come out for sporting events here - the tennis and cricket in particular. If any where upside down I'm not sure anyone would even notice.
There is, however, a disturbing increase in the number of Australian flags being displayed around the place. Such displays are more often than not accompanied by anti-immigration slogans. Such slogans are, of course, all part of the war on terror. Disturbing.

gbreez Fri Jul 27, 11:25:00 PM EDT  

I barely recognize this as my country. I am old enough to have seen a great deal of change, much of it good, until Reagan. Clinton was a respite, but, otherwise, it has been all downhill. I, too, think about leaving, but, not sure where I would go or how I would survive. You lose a lot of options when you are older and
have little money.

Wordsmith Sat Jul 28, 02:59:00 AM EDT  

But it's OK to wear a shirt, bandana, etc., decked out as an American flag. I find that obscene myself.

I'm taking French from our local university in the fall. Gettin' ready for the move north when necessary


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