About 30 people showed up for a rally in support of the American Flag June 23 at Santa Fe Park in Peabody. Kevin Linscheid of Peabody had called for the rally on June 7, when he posted information on the Internet about flags at the Memorial Day Avenue of Flags being vandalized. He hoped to rally patriots across the country to come to Peabody and show the vandals the kind of support and loyalty the flag inspires.
After Linscheid’s posting he began receiving phone calls and e-mails from people he did not know and he became concerned by the tone of their message. He worried the rally might get out of control. He and Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft appeared on a Wichita television station June 17, announcing that he had called off the rally.
He also circulated an e-mail and posted the announcement on his Facebook page.
Of the 30 who showed up this past Wednesday, about half were Peabody people who were curious about the impact of the rally.
Linscheid and Craft hosted the rally together and took questions from the audience. Linscheid told a little about his service to the country in the Army and the Kansas National Guard and spoke of his anger after hearing about the flag desecration. He addressed the people who came to Peabody to support him.
“I want to thank all of you who stood by me,” he said. “You are the reason I put on the uniform.”
He said he made retractions as he found some inconsistencies in the initial story he put on the Internet.
“But nonetheless, those men whose flags were vandalized, whether by five kids or 12, were dishonored,” he said.
Sheriff Craft emphasized the case is being actively investigated. An officer has been assigned and has full reign to bring the case to conclusion.
Craft also said that after his conversation with Linscheid, he knew that Linscheid had gotten the information from someone he trusted; someone he felt was close to the investigation.
“We cannot retract what is on the Internet, however. I would like to see Peabody come out of this on their feet,” he said. “This community has many patriotic events — more than most.”
Craft told the group he would have to have “provable” facts to take to the county attorney.
“I cannot take rumors, street talk, or innuendo to court,” he said. “We are getting very close to acquiring the information we need.”
Craft also told the audience the county attorney will make a determination on what charges can be filed and could make a recommendation on punishment if the vandals are convicted.
Linscheid asked what kind of restitution could be expected and Craft responded that the sentencing phase would be part of the judge’s determination.
“And I want to caution the community about being over-zealous about punishment,” Craft said. “I think the kids know they have done wrong. We need to give the law and courts a chance to work.”
Linscheid added that he didn’t realize it is not against the law to desecrate the flag as long as it does not belong to another person. He wondered if people should contact their legislators.
Craft said they could certainly do that, but the issue had been brought up in the past and had not been changed.
“This is an issue of freedom of speech,” he said. “There is a law about desecration of cemeteries and memorials. That is a punishable offense. Since these flags were part of a memorial in a cemetery, the vandals broke the law.
“But if they burned or walked on a flag of their own, it would not break any local, state, or federal regulations,” he added.
Before the group dispersed, everyone faced the flag Linscheid had brought to the park and recited the Pledge of Allegiance together.
At press time there is no official word on any arrests in the case.