Is Northfield joining the country of Malaysia?

The national flag of Malaysia replaced the American flag outside a Northfield, IL public park district building Saturday, an action that appears to violate the traditions of the U.S. Federal Flag Code. A group gathered at Clarkson Park on Willow Road, presumably to celebrate Malaysian Independence Day, erected the flag. By late Saturday evening, the American flag had been put back up on the flag pole.

By raising the Malaysian flag, the group appears to have violated the U.S. Federal Flag Code guidelines that restrict the replacing of the U.S. flag with that of another nation, as well as the policies of the Northfield Township Road District (which includes the village of Northfield).  The Northfield Twp. Road code states:

It is the policy of the Northfield Township Road  District to display and fly flags in accordance with Federal regulations, historic guidelines and special proclamations issued by the President,  Governor, Township Supervisor and Highway Commissioner.”

The U.S. Flag Code states:

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.”

Several Northfield citizens reported that they attempted to question the local police and village officials about the flag violation and were told that people renting Clarkson Park have a right to fly their own flag on the basis of religious freedom. As of this posting, no official response has been issued by the village of Northfield or the Northfield Park District.

In addition to the U.S. Flag Code, a Flag Protocol Guide put out by the University of Illinois (Champaign/Urbana) states that “flags of other nations may not be displayed unless the U.S. flag is also displayed.”

That a foreign flag would fly in place of the American flag at a government-owned public building not only violates the spirit of the U.S. Flag Code but reveals a casual attitude of village officials – who are charged with representing the principles espoused by their constituents. Although the U.S. Flag Code was found unconstitutional in 1990 with regard to burning of the U.S. flag, the issue of treatment of the flag remains a sensitive one for many Americans.

And this is how the flag pole looks today.

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