Altus man stirs controversy: Hangs Old Glory at half-staff, upside down

Altus_An Altus man has caused some controversy by flying his United States flag at half-staff and upside down.  Flying Old Glory upside down is a distress signal in the United States.  John Kolvitz says he's doing it because he doesn't like the direction the nation is headed.  He says he began flying the flag at half-staff when President Barack Obama was elected, and turned it upside down on Inauguration Day.  Kolvitz's actions have caused a stir in his neighborhood, and one neighbor in particular does not approve.

A friend of Patrick Madl called 7News to inform the station that Madl would be sending a letter to the Mayor of Altus.  He says it's a disgrace to every veteran who has ever served their country.  However, Kolvitz says America is in distress, and he's free to express that distress - even if it means turning the Stars and Stripes on its head.  "People just don't have respect for the country anymore," he said.  "They allow politicians to lie through their teeth, and they re-elect them - it doesn't make any sense."

Madl says he disagrees, and flies his flag at full staff, right-side up.  He says he thinks everyone else should, too.  "That flag doesn't stand for Democrat or Republican," he said.  "It doesn't have anything to do with the form of government we have."  Kolvitz says he agrees with that assertion.  "I believe the state of the country's got as much to do with Republicans as I do Democrats - I'm an Independent," he said.  "I don't like either party."

Madl says he is so upset about Kolvitz's political statement that he has typed up a letter to the Mayor of Altus, although he has yet drop it in the mail.  He says he already has contacted the police.  "My research has told me that it is not illegal - due to the First Amendment - but it's still a great disrespect to every veteran that has ever been," he said.  Kolvitz also is a veteran, and says he believes freedom of speech is part of why he fought.  "I served my country for 20 years in the Air Force," he said.  "I still get goose-bumps when they play 'God Bless America.'"

Altus Police Chief Mike Patterson says Kolvitz's actions are legal under the First Amendment, and it's no different than if Kolvitz had put a banner up in his yard demonstrating his displeasure.