Woman Allowed To Fly Flag Upside Down

Sign Of Distress Used To Protest Iraq War

A woman on Friday won her free speech battle with her homeowners' association and will be allowed to display the American flag upside down outside her home in a west Denver suburb.

Retired banker Beth Hammer hung the flag the upside-down on March 19, the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, in protest of the war.

Hanging the flag with the blue field and white stars on the bottom is considered a sign of distress under the federal flag code and has drawn the ire of some in her community and the homeowners' association.

In a statement, the Cambridge Park Homeowners Association said it would not pursue enforcement under its "patriotic and political expression policy" because: "The financial and other resource costs to the Association outweigh any harmful impact this violation may have."

The association also said its members still believe Hammer violated the federal flag code and the HOA's issue on how to display a flag had not been settled.

The federal flag code states: "The flag should never be displayed with union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

The HOA held a hearing on the issue Wednesday. Beth Hammer and her husband, Doug, faced fines of up to $500 per violation which could be applied retroactively to the date the flag was hung.

Hammer's lawyer, Mari Newman, said the five-member board wouldn't allow her to present evidence of other residents who were violating HOA rules on flags but who were never cited.

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