Illinois Considers Felony Charges for Flying US Flag Upside Down

Estimated read time 4 min read

The introduction of a new bill in Illinois aims to upgrade the offense of government officials knowingly flying the United States’ flag upside down on a government property. The bill, HB 5860, was introduced by State Representative Harry Benton (D-Plainfield) on June 11 and proposes amendments to Illinois’ Flag Display Act.


Specific Inclusions and Consequences of Infringement

A violation under HB 5860 could be categorized as a Class 4 felony and may land offenders in prison for 1 to 3 years as per Illinois law. However, there’s an exception should there be extreme danger to life or property, recognized by the U.S. Flag Code, it would not constitute an offense.


Origins and Intentions Behind the New Bill

The proposal of HB 5860 comes after an American flag was flown upside down outside an administration center in Homer Glen village in Illinois. This controversy followed shortly after Donald Trump, the previous president, was found guilty on multiple counts related to misleading business records. Army Veteran Benton took it upon himself to address this matter by introducing legislation that recognized such actions as not only disrespectful towards our national values but also unacceptable.


Different Letter Legislation Introduced Together with HB 5860

Benton has initiated another bill along with HB 5860 named HB 5861. This accompanying bill looks forward at amending Illinois’ Flag Display Act further by imposing a fine up till $25,000 for offending officials, who dare to fly the American flag upside down on public properties.


Public Opinions and Disputes Over Proposed Changes

The bills have sparked discussions among the masses as well as lawmakers. State Representative and Air Force veteran David Friess opposes the proposal, arguing for maintaining individual rights to flag display reflecting the individual’s perception of national distress. He voices that freedom of speech is one of our greatest freedoms and though he does not agree with flying the flag upside down, he respects an individual’s right to do so.


Concerns Around Free Speech

Regarding HB 5860, Friess shows concerns over its future and hopes that Benton might introduce a law preventing the burning of flags during protests at rallies such as Black Lives Matter or Pro Palestine.


Benton’s Opinions on Proposed Bills

Benton reiterates that his bills are designed to respect the American flag which symbolizes our national pride and spirit. It serves as a reminder of sacrifices made by Americans through generations. Elected leaders swear an oath to uphold this sentiment and not towards any specific political leader. Both HB 5860 and HB 5861 only allow for flying a flag upside down under grave circumstances of extreme danger to life or property.


Expected Future Developments

The upcoming fall veto session scheduled in November might see these bills passing. As this issue intensifies, it brings forth a dynamic balance between upholding respect towards national symbols and protecting rights related to free speech. While Benton stands for preserving dignity towards the American flag with his proposals, opponents are fighting for maintaining free expression even when it tends to be controversial.


The introduction of these bills has started serious discussions about appropriate use of national symbols like American flag and boundaries around free speech. The proponents argue for penalizing officials who knowingly disrespect our national values whereas critics point toward potential infringement on personal liberties related to patriotic expression.


Ways to Influence the Process

  • Reach out to Lawmakers, Citizens are encouraged to voice their views about HB 5860 and HB 5861 by contacting their respective representatives.
  • Join Public Discussions, engage in public discussions to express support or provide criticism regarding the proposed laws.
  • Track Updates, Stay updated with changes in the bills as they come up during the fall veto session and remain aware and involved with related legislative proceedings.

The suggested changes in legislation have brought long-standing issues over respect for national symbols versus an individual’s rights into limelight.


Celina Brooks

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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