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June 28, 2006 - The US Senate voted on the amendment on June 27th, narrowly rejecting it. The House had approved it in 2005. This vote effectively kills the amendment for now. (What is likely to happen is that the next time elections are approaching, the issue will rear back up. It's easier to debate a popular controversy like flag burning or immigration, rather than complex issues like the economy or foreign policy.)

March 6, 2006 - Robert Justin Goldman appeared on a live webchat to discuss the controversy. Here's the article about the chat, and the transcript, courtesy of the US State Department.

Dec 5, 2005 - Sen Hillary Clinton gives her support to a law that would ban certain forms of flag burning, although she still does not support the constitutional amendment. Here's an article from Newsday.

March 3, 2005 - Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) has announced that he will introduce the flag amendment soon. Here's an article from the Aberdeen News.

People are still getting arrested in the US for flag desecration, even though such laws are unconstitutional. The tend seems to be that the sheriff arrests you, you spend a few nights in jail, the prosecutor drops the charges, and you get to go home. Here are some recent examples:

Nebraska, November 2004
Colorado, April 2003
Oregon, Utah, and Indiana, April 2003
Iowa, April 2002

from the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center
Ashland, Oregon Flag Burners Face 1.5 Years
by oso Monday April 14, 2003 at 11:20 PM

'John Doe' and Alyosha Witness appeared in Jackson County Court today on charges stemming from Saturday's flag burning at an anti-war rally in the Ashland Plaza. The two men are each charged with 2 counts of Reckless Endangerment and 1 count of Disorderly Conduct.

The charges of Reckless Endangerment each carry fines of $5000 and/or 1 year in jail. The charges of Disorderly Conduct carry fines of $2000 and/or 6 months in jail.  The charges of Reckless Endangerment stem from allegations that an unnamed woman and child were "willfully and maliciously endangered" by the actions of the defendents.

Paula and Noah Sohl were present in the courtroom and gave a statement to the press about their experience on Saturday. They claim to be the "unnamed woman and child" present at the protest, as they were sitting in the bench near the flag burners. Mrs. Sohl said the individuals went to, "an empty space on the plaza to burn the flag." She said the act was "done carefully" and with respect.

"It was a sober moment, to see the strength of their feelings," said Mrs. Sohl. She and her son "were not in any danger" as the flag was "burning out on the ground." She added that she is "happy that this is a country where we can burn the flag," and that it was done because the individuals "don't believe the government is supporting the views of the public regarding the invasion of Iraq."

'John Doe' has refused to cooperate with the booking process, and is therefore being denied access to a phone. He will not be appointed an attorney until he gives his name and finger prints.  Both individuals are scheduled for pre-trial hearings on April 28 at 1:30 pm. They are being held in Jackson County Jail on $25,000 bail.

Peaceful Protest: Trumped-Up Charges, Arrests

A peaceful feeder march ending on the plaza was marred by arrests of two flag burners. The protesters were exercising their freedom of expression, burning the flag in denouncement of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Police swooped in, stomped on the flames, and arrested the protesters on trumped-up charges of reckless burning.

Other protesters, acting in solidarity with the arrestees, followed the arresting officers onto Main Street shouting, "This is what democracy looks like!" and "Police State!" as the flag burners were hauled into squad cars.

Many of those remaining were shaken and angered by the unreasonable arrest. A group of protesters continued the action, placing simulated tombstones of Iraqi civilians, flower petals and a sign bearing the Howard Zinn quote, "THERE IS NO FLAG LARGE ENOUGH TO COVER THE SHAME OF KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE" onto the ashes of the burned flag.

Later, APD officer Bon Stewart began dismantling the makeshift memorial. A few women asked him what he was doing and stated that they wished to keep the tombstone signs. Stewart stated that he needed to photograph evidence and shoved one of the women as she stooped to pick up her sign.

Peace activist Paul Copeland stated that the Ashland police made a serious misstep and that "This is an excellent opportunity for public education."

Ashland Against War

In solidarity with millions marching for peace and justice across the world, Ashlanders converged on the plaza downtown for a peaceful demonstration against the occupation of Iraq by the U.S. military.

Two marches converged on the downtown plaza in Ashland on an international day of action against the military occupation in Iraq.

At Garfield Park, around 75 people assembled at 11:00 am, and proceeded to the plaza with drummers and a gamelan ensemble and tombstones of Iraqi children and adults killed in the invasion. There was a heavy police presence throughout the march, though no incidents occured as the marchers were peaceful and complied with police requests to stay on the sidewalks.

When the march arrived in the plaza, it met up with the Peace House rally. Many speakers took the microphone to offer solutions to the war machine and critiques of the current situation in our government.

Two individuals burned an American flag and were quickly arrested and hauled away by Ashland Police Department. Despite Constitutionally protected rights to free expression, APD charged the two with Disorderly Conduct and Reckless Burning. They are being held in Jackson County jail until an arraignment scheduled for Monday at 1:30 pm.

Controversy erupted on the plaza following the flag burning and subsequent arrests. Many people laid the tombstones with Iraqi names and ages in the ashes of the burned flag, in an eerie memorial to the senseless death rained down on the innocent in the streets of Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk, and all the other villages throughout Iraq. Many others expressed disgust at the flag burners for dividing the movement.

In the simplest terms, a small hand-painted sign quoting Howard Zinn, laid in the ashes of a burned flag said, "THERE IS NO FLAG LARGE ENOUGH TO COVER THE SHAME OF KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE".

(The preceding news article is 2000-2003 San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center. )

Firefighter ban on U.S. flags reversed Officials were worried they might provoke anti-war protesters
Posted: March 25, 2003 5:00 p.m. Eastern 2003

Fire bureau officials in Oregon's largest city this morning rescinded a controversial order to remove American flags from fire engines.  The order was issued yesterday to avoid provoking dangerous confrontations with anti-war demonstrators. This morning, however, Fire Chief Ed Wilson issued a statement reversing the decision.

"Our intention was certainly not to stifle patriotism," Wilson said. "Rather, we made the choice to put firefighter safety first."

"It's entirely appropriate for firefighters to display the American flag," the chief stated. "The order to remove the flags was born of good intentions, but it was a mistake."

Yesterday, Portland Fire Bureau Deputy Chief Gary Warrington issued a memo to his three downtown companies stating that the policy to remove the flags "will continue until we no longer have sustained close contact interaction with protesters and demonstrators."

"Protesters have threatened our personnel and are burning flags in the street," yesterday's memo said. "We do not want extremists attacking our apparatus or our personnel."

Firefighters immediately complained, Portland's daily paper, the Oregonian, said.

"Taking the flag down hits a lot of nerves with a lot of people," said Tom Chamberlain, president of the Portland Firefighters Association. "It's part of our uniform. There's a lot of pride that goes with being a firefighter."

Union officials had sought a compromise that would permit the firefighters to display the flag under some circumstances, Chamberlain said.

Portland fire companies began flying the flag from rearview mirrors and other parts of their trucks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which killed hundreds of New York firefighters. Bureau officials debated the issue as some, including firefighters, thought certain presentations of the flag were irreverent. A policy resulted that explicitly allowed display of the flag on trucks.

Warrington decided, however, to issue a new policy yesterday after fire crews responded to a downtown protest last Thursday that included flag burnings.  The deputy chief said his decision prompted many phone calls, including one from a citizen who questioned his patriotism.  That hurt, he told the Oregonian.

"My position is not, 'We should bow to those people, we should be worried about them, we should let them win,' " Warrington said. "That is not it at all."

"I absolutely want to stand up and support the flag," he said. "All I was trying to do was keep our members from being put in harm's way."

The Portland paper said peace activists also objected. Will Seaman of the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition insisted that many who oppose the war "are classic patriots who revere the flag as a symbol of freedom and democracy."  Seaman said he wondered if the bureau actually intended to stir up tensions between the firefighters and protesters.

The Oregonian reported that by the end of the day, the firefighters anger had tempered somewhat.  Union chief Chamberlain said he respected the bureau's intent, noting that some crews at the protest last week worried that the situation "could have turned ugly."  In response, a commander at the demonstration ordered flags removed that night, he said.  "The fire bureau and the union should sit down and come up with a consistent policy that allows folks to fly the flags and come up with parameters for circumstances under which you don't fly them," Chamberlain said.

For older news articles, please see the Flag Burning News Archive.

For additional up-to-the-minute information, you might want to try Yahoo's Coverage of the Flag Amendment., a Google Search on flag desecration in the news, or the ACLU's Fight for the Flag


Warren S. Apel

Esquilax Productions