CRIVITZ (AP) - An American flag flown upside down as a protest in Crivitz wasseized by police before a Fourth of July parade and the businessmanwho flew it - an Iraq war veteran - claims the officers trespassedand stole his property.
A day after the parade, police returned the flag and theman's protest - over a liquor license - continued.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin isconsidering legal action against the village of Crivitz forviolating Vito Congine Jr.'s' First Amendment rights, ExecutiveDirector Chris Ahmuty said.
"It is not often that you see something this blatant," Ahmutysaid.
In mid-June, Congine, 46, began flying the flag upside down -an accepted way to signal distress - outside the restaurant hewants to open in Crivitz, a village of about 1,000 people some 65miles north of Green Bay.
He said his distress is likely bankruptcy because the villageboard refused to grant him a liquor license after he spent nearly$200,000 to buy and remodel a downtown building for an Italiansupper club.
Congine's upside-down-flag represents distress to him; toothers in town, it represents disrespect of the flag.
Hours before a Fourth of July parade, four police officerswent to Congine's property and removed the flag under the advice ofMarinette County District Attorney Allen Brey.
Neighbor Steven Klein watched in disbelief.
"I said, 'What are you doing?' Klein said. "They said, 'It isnone of your business."'
The next day, police returned the flag.
Brey declined comment Friday.
Marinette County Sheriff Jim Kanikula said it was not illegalto fly the flag upside down but people were upset and it was theFourth of July.
"It is illegal to cause a disruption," he said.
The parade went on without any problems, Kanikula said.
Village President John Deschane, 60, an Army veteran whoserved in Vietnam, said many people in town believe it'sdisrespectful to fly the flag upside down.
"If he wants to protest, let him protest but find a differentway to do it," Deschane said.
Congine, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq in 2004, said heintends to keep flying the flag upside down.
"It is pretty bad when I go and fight a tyrannical governmentsomewhere else," Congine said, "and then I come home to find itright here at my front door."
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