LIHUE — What originally appeared to be the work of a prankster may have been a combination of carelessness and coincidence.
In two days, two American flags at state and county buildings in Lihue were spotted flying upside down.
On Wednesday, a local resident emailed a photo to The Garden Island of one inverted flag in front of the Pu‘uhonua Kaulike Circuit Court Building.
That case, according to Fifth Circuit Court Deputy Administrator Alton Amimoto, turned out be an oversight by a janitor who put the flag up early that morning.
Amimoto said the mistake was not reported to staff until around 10 a.m.
“Our apologies to the Americans out there that fought so hard for that flag,” he said, adding that provisions were being made to prevent it from happening again.
The following morning, on Thursday, County Clerk Ricky Watanabe reported that the same thing occurred at the Historic County Building.
“A council services employee put up the flag correctly this morning, as he does daily, and shortly after they noticed that the flag had been turned upside down,” county spokeswoman Sarah Blane wrote in an email that morning. “It was corrected immediately after they noticed it. It appears we have a prankster(s) on our hands.”
Later, however, Blane reported that the Kauai Police Department received no report.
“And there’s nothing to ‘prove’ that someone did this at the county building either,” she wrote. “There were no witnesses, etc.”
An upside down American flag is officially recognized as a signal of distress.
The U.S. Flag Code states: “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”