In an eery sign suggesting that Trumpists and fomenters of civil war are everywhere among us, waiting for a signal to show themselves and rise up, a flag that was flown by January 6th insurrectionists, and recently by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito (or his wife) made an appearance this week atop a building in San Francisco's Jackson Square.

There's not a lot of info about who was behind the raising of the flag at 708-710 Montgomery Street, otherwise known as the Canessa Printing Co. building. The Chronicle reports that it appeared on the flagpole atop the building, which is also home to French bakery cafe Maison Nico, on Thursday afternoon, and when the Chronicle took notice of it and inquired, the flag was removed early Friday morning.

Canessa Gallery at 708-710 Montgomery, via Google

A Google Street View image of the building shows an Italian flag flying on its flagpole in March 2022.

The flag is the "Appeal to Heaven" flag featuring an image of a pine tree, a relic of the Revolutionary War that has been coopted by the Christian right and by right-wing "Stop the Steal" activists. It was one of several previously obscure flags that made appearances during the January 6th riots. The flag has come to represent "a theological vision of what the United States should be and how it should be governed," as religion scholar Matthew Taylor tells the New York Times.

Highly problematically for Justice Alito, it appears to have flown all last summer outside his beach house on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The Times reported on this days after a separate report on an upside-down American flag that was flown over multiple days on a pole outside the Alitos' Virginia home during the week of President Biden's 2021 inauguration, during a time when the Supreme Court was considering an appeal by Trump regarding the election.

Alito subsequently told the Times he had "no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag" upside-down, and laid blame on his wife, Martha-Ann Alito. Mrs. Alito reportedly also had a previous dispute with a neighbor on their block of an anti-Trump sign that neighbor had displayed on their lawn.

The revelation about the "Appeal to Heaven" flag further cements that the Alito household — driven either by the justice himself, his wife, or both of them — is firmly politically aligned with Christian right members of the "Stop the Steal" movement. And any notion that Alito remains an impartial jurist is pretty much out the window — though that is no surprise to anyone who has followed his career on the court, or read any of his dissents or majority opinions. His opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson that overturned Roe v. Wade, for instance, was rife with references to the religious bases of society and historic norms regarding the practice of abortion.

Per the Chronicle's report, Maison Nico owner Andrea Delaroque was shocked to learn of the flag atop the building, and she may have been influential in getting it replaced with a tricolor French flag. A gallery on the second floor of the building, the nonprofit Canessa Gallery, may be linked to the building's ownership — and the Chronicle notes that the principal officer of the nonprofit is one Zach Stewart. Stewart could not be reached for comment, but an employee who answered the door at Stewart's nearby residence told the paper that he had helped take the Pine Tree flag down at 7 am that morning.

Was this some kind of callback to the Alito story? A "Bat Signal" of sorts to other, likeminded revolutionaries or Christians?

In an uncomfortable coincidence, the Canessa building sits directly next door to the Foster Gwin Gallery, which was the site of that infamous video from January 2023 that showed gallery owner Collier Gwin turning a hose on a homeless woman who was loitering outside.

This is not the first time the "Appeal to Heaven" flag has flown in San Francisco. Repeat longshot candidate for mayor Ellen Lee Zhou tweeted a video of someone holding the flag in UN Plaza in August 2023. She tweeted to her supporters in December that there would be a gathering every Sunday morning at 8 am in UN Plaza to call for an "appeal to heaven... to end homelessness and drug dealers in San Francisco." One such gathering is shown in video below from April 20 of this year.

Another Twitter user, making reference to "all The Democrats angry at Justice Alito," posted this undated video of an "Appeal to Heaven" flag flying in City Hall Plaza. This photo from March 2018 also shows the flag outside City Hall.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is running for mayor in November, tells the Chronicle that if the flag appearing on Montgomery Street wasn't just a prank, "I would roll my eyes and keep walking."

Top image: A reportedly vintage Appeal to Heaven flag for sale on Etsy.