On Tuesday, May 16, the US Capitol flag was seen flying upside down at the top of the Senate building in Washington, D.C. As per the U.S. Flag Code, the American flag is flown upside down to signal distress in times of extreme danger to property or life.
The upside-down flag was noted by onlookers, and pictures were shared on social media. It was not immediately clarified by authorities as to whether the flag was flown at half-mast by mistake or if it was for some other purpose.
🚨Just in: The American Flag is flying upside down at the top of the US Senate on the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC. According to the U.S. Flag Code, flying the American flag upside down is only meant to be done "as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or… pic.twitter.com/B45lIAZ3Dj
— The Calvin Coolidge Project (@TheCalvinCooli1) May 16, 2023
The image was first shared on Twitter by Rawsalerts on May 16. Later, it was reposted by other Twitter accounts that were equally curious to know the reason behind the instance.
However, after about an hour, Rawsalert posted another image and said that the flag was no longer at half-mast as a staff member from the Capitol building fixed the flag.
🚨#UPDATE: The us American flag is no longer upside down as a staff member from the us capital has fixed the flag pic.twitter.com/alqCWrZcnR
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) May 16, 2023
Netizens were concerned due to the upside-down US Capitol flag
A lot of people did not want to believe that the US flag was flying at half-mast. Some claimed that it was probably photoshopped, while others argued that the picture was probably from some other occasion and not recent.
One user shared a tweet by women’s rights activist Riley Gaines made on the same day in front of the Capitol building, where the US flag was shown in its accurate position. The user wrote that the upside-down flag might be a second flag.
Gaines shared her tweet on the same day, around the same time the photo of the upside-down Capitol flag was shared on Twitter. As per the activist’s tweet, she was there to testify before the US Congress regarding the violence among leftist protesters.
Another flag? https://t.co/bCgq2X80HA
— Chris Nelson 🇺🇸 🏝 (@ReOpenChris) May 16, 2023
Another user wrote that the upside-down Capitol flag was on the far end of the other US flag, which was shown in Riley’s tweet. It was centered on the front side of the building.
What actually went wrong with the US Capitol flag?
One user, @KatieAciditie, commented on Rawsalerts’ tweet and claimed that the picture of the upside-down flag was from the previous day and the half-mast flag was for Peace Officers Memorial Day. The user also added that the image was photoshopped.
They further claimed that they were watching the live feed of the Capitol, where all flags were shown in their correct positions.
However, another user, Bri Steyaert, shared a detailed explanation of what went wrong with the Capitol flag. She wrote that she went back to check the live feed from Tuesday morning. The person who raised the flag only did it halfway and then brought it back down for some reason. Then raised it up again.
The flag was stuck in its upside-down position for a while before three men walked across the roof. Bri shared a video recording of the moment. One of the three men was seen carrying a bag or something of the sort over his shoulder. The flag was hanging on by just one clip at half-mast. An hour later, one person came out and fixed it.
The flag was thus not flying upside-down because of an emergency alert; it was merely a mistake on the part of the Capitol staff members who were responsible for raising the flag.