Keen-eyed last minute holiday shoppers may have thought something was awry on Dec. 24 if they looked at the state of Old Glory flying atop the Atlantic Terminal Mall. The flag was being flown upside down — a signal of dire distress. Was this a not-so-subtle comment on the state of the retail sector?
Joyce Baumgarten, a spokesperson for mall owner Forest City Ratner Companies, set the record straight, chalking up the topsy-turvy affair to an “honesthuman error.”She said it was only in the upside down position for a scant 20 minutes — just long enough for our eagle-eyed shutterbug to snap the flag’s sorry state.
According to the United States Flag Code, a set of advisory rules, the flag is flown upside down as a distress signal. But an inverted flag is often wrongly thought to be a sign of disrespect. A North Carolina couple found this out the hard way back in 2007 when they were arrested for flying the flag upside down. At the time, police claimed that Mark and Deborah Kuhn of Asheville violated a statute for “desecration of the flag.” The charge was eventually dropped.