Caltrans likely to order flag removed |

Caltrans likely to order flag removed

John HartAn American flag has hung from the Brunswick Road overpass since soon after the Sept. 11 attacks.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Their flag is supposed to come down, but they’re still awaiting orders from Caltrans.

When that happens, said David Miles, “We’re going to have a flag-folding ceremony, and we’re going to invite the VFW and the Boy Scouts.”

The 45-year-old Grass Valley man hung an American flag from the Brunswick Road overpass above the Golden Center Freeway soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

Now faded, two padlocks keep it fastened to the chain-link fence. It might be illegal.

“I’m all for leaving it up there, but not if it’s going to be breaking the law,” said Miles, who hung the flag with his friend, John Vaars.

Flags, banners and ribbons expressing patriotism, pacifism and other reactions to the attacks were hung across the state. Then Caltrans announced that only flags could stay, to limit distractions to motorists.

Peace activists in Santa Cruz hoping to hang their messages took the issue to court, and a San Jose federal judge ruled Jan. 29 that it should be all or nothing.

On Wednesday, Miles phoned Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger, who recommended Miles take down the flag or get a Caltrans worker to help him.

Meanwhile, Dinger said, Caltrans’ legal department is deciding how to respond to the court ruling. It’s “inevitable,” he said, that the flags must come down.

Until that decision, said Miles and Vaars, self-described right-wing Christians, the flag will stay.

“I think civil rights is hurting the people as a people. I think it’s going overboard,” Miles said. “I think a lot of the issues that originated with civil rights are valid and necessary, but I think they’re being exploited. It seems they’re being pretty petty.”

Beth Moore Haines, a Chicago Park activist who led three marches after the attacks, found the ruling interesting.

“I think our access to free speech needs to be fair, and while I certainly support America and the flag and its symbolism, I think a lot of other valuable points of view out there should receive fair access to free speech,” she said.

A fellow activist tried to hang a banner showing a peace sign and a heart along with a message, Haines said, but Caltrans rejected it, along with a proposed banner with symbols and no words.

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