EL SOBRANTE, Calif. - For years now, an El Sobrante home has been covered with political signs and statements. No one seemed to pay it much mind — until now.
"The new aspect as of today was the swastika-upside down American flag. So of course that’s disturbing," said Scott Cox, principal of El Sobrante Christian School. "It represents terror to people."
This house sits directly across the street from the school.
Cox said his students asked what could be done about it. He gave them a quick lesson about the First Amendment right to free speech.
"On the other hand, I was able to explain why it’s so offensive," Cox said.
The principal says there was something palpable they could do.
"We can put an American flag right up there, honorably. We pledge allegiance to the American flag every morning at our school," he said.
The flag now adorns a formerly bare flagpole on campus directly across from the house.
"I had it put up this morning," Cox said.
The upside-down American flags are relatively new. School staff say they’ve also seen Russian flags being displayed previously.
"My assumption is this has something to do with the horrible thing that’s happened in the Ukraine," Cox said. "And I'm not sure what statement they’re trying to make on it."
KTVU tried to get a statement from the resident of the home. But there’s a fence with no trespassing signs surrounding the property, and no doorbell. Phone numbers for the man didn’t go through.
"Children should not have to be exposed to this kind of hate-filled and ugly expression," said Teresa Drenick, deputy regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Francsico and a former Alameda County prosecutor.
She says the First Amendment does protect the display of hateful symbols like a swastika, especially on private property.
But Drenick said, "We as a society also have free speech rights, and we have a right to speak out and call out hate when we see it, call out anti-Semitism when we see it."
Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies did respond to the incident but "determined there were no law violations," said spokesman Jimmy Lee.