University Sides with Flag Stompers, Detains Military Veteran

AP Photo/Eric Gay, Facebook/Michelle Manhart
AP Photo/Eric Gay, Facebook/Michelle Manhart
Washington, DC

Valdosta State University police detained a military veteran after she tried to stop protesters from stomping all over an American flag.

Michelle Manhart is an Air Force veteran. According to the Valdosta Daily Times, she wanted to take action after hearing about the protesters’ behavior.

“I did not want anything like this, but I got a call from a student who told me that the flag was on the ground, and they were walking on it,” Manhart said. “I was just going over there to pick up the flag off the ground. I don’t know what their cause is, but I went to pick it up because it doesn’t deserve to be on the ground.”

The newspaper reports she was taken into custody by school police officers who gave the flag back to the demonstrators. Manhart admitted that she resisted arrest when she saw the police were returning the flag to the protesters.

Neither the protesters nor the police pressed charges against Manhart.

Manhart was handed a warning for criminal trespass. This warning “effectively bans her from any university activity, including graduation and football games,” Andy Clark, vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications told the Daily Times.

The protesters did not identify their group nor give a comment to the Valdosta Daily Times as to their intent for the demonstration.

Valdosta State University is a public school located in Georgia.

The school president, William J. McKinny, issued a statement on free speech on campus following the event that caught national news attention.

“The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our highest priority. Therefore, while we protect peoples’ civil liberties, we will be vigilant in ensuring order is maintained. We are actively monitoring the situation and continue to work closely with local law enforcement,” said McKinney. “Any action by any individual or group that jeopardizes the safety or disrupts the orderly operations of the university will be dealt with swiftly and justly.”