By Ron Lee
Medford, OR – Walking into the Oregon State Employment Office at 119 N. Oakdale Ave. in Medford, Oregon can already be a daunting experience for many who are looking for work or have to file a claim. To many it can be a stressful occasion. Being met by a Mexican flag hoisted above the Stars and Stripes on the back wall of this state-run office is for many, like Earl Howard of Shady Cove, OR, “downright un-American.”
Earl Howard in front of the Employment Department Office.
Mr. Howard had been told by a friend who had been utilizing the services at the office about the flag’s prominence. According to Howard, a licensed electrician, he couldn’t believe that a government agency would do such a thing. On the grounds that it might be an oversight Mr. Howard headed to the employment office to see for himself and asked to speak with the manager, Jean Work.
Ms. Work was not there on that occasion and a woman whom Howard could only recall as “Judy” came forward to assist him. “I told her it was treason …” he said in regard to the flag’s presence and placement.
At that time, the representative informed Mr. Howard that it would be taken care of and the Mexican flag was removed, but not permanently…
Having been informed of the Mexican flag’s replacement, Howard went back to the office to check. Seeing that they had in fact put the flag back up, he immediately called Oregon State Representative Dennis Richardson, and Representative Greg Walden’s offices to inform them of the issue. According to Howard, one clerk for Walden stated that there is a law pertaining to the flying of foreign flags in and around federal buildings, but the staffer wasn’t certain about state agencies.
Finding no real assistance, other than promises that it would be looked into, Mr. Howard then contacted Paul Walter with NewsWithViews.com and set about to publicize the obvious, to him, violation of one of our most sacred symbols; “Old Glory.” In turn, NewsWithViews contacted the US~Observer and the investigation began.
An attempt to reach Ms. Work in the office by NewsWithViews and US~Observer staff was met with the same response, “she’s not here but a representative will be with you shortly.” And soon thereafter Chris Rahn, an Employment Division employee, came out asking if he could be of any assistance, but when asked about the flag, he simply said, “I can’t comment on anything.” However when he was asked about the Federal law restricting such activity and if it were in fact legal he said, “We checked.”
But according to Federal Law it is illegal as outlined in the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10:
§175. Position and manner of display:
(c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof:
Even in Oregon the claim can be made that it is in violation of its own revised statutes:
166.075 Abuse of venerated objects.
(1) A person commits the crime of abuse of venerated objects if the person intentionally abuses a public monument or structure, a place of worship or the national or state flag.
(2) As used in this section and ORS 166.085, “abuse” means to deface, damage, defile or otherwise physically mistreat in a manner likely to outrage public sensibilities.
(3) Abuse of venerated objects is a Class C misdemeanor. [1971 c.743 §224; 1995 c.261 §2]
According to Thomas Fuller, the Oregon Employment Offices Communications Manager, when asked about the Mexican flag, “We go by the Department of Administrative Services … and there is no prohibition against a staff member displaying a flag in his cubicle.”
While the flag is located above a desk it is in clear view of the public and is placed to the right of, and higher than, the American flag which is just several feet away and as Mr. Howard put it, “can easily be interpreted as a move sanctioned by the state, as it is clearly visible.”
Mr. Howard sees the flying of the Mexican flag in the state office as a symbol of change in our government, one that favors Mexican nationals.
“You only have to go into a government office once to see that all of the Spanish language pamphlets are outnumbering English ones,” said Lorraine Tillman a Josephine County, OR resident speaking out on the governments move toward, what some feel to be, an almost mandatory bilingual community.
When told about the flag and shown pamphlets from the Employment Office a Grants Pass, Oregon resident who’d only give his first name as Dave simply said, “Man, that just makes me feel weird. This is America.”
Editor’s Note: Should “Old Glory” be flown below the Mexican National flag? Send us your comments!